Thursday, March 10, 2005

Propagandist

T. Friedman misses it again in this NYT agitprop. I don't know a lot about the Middle East. But apparently I do better research than New York's most prominent foreign policy symbolist. Friedman is more like a bad poet than a newsman -- he doesn't have facts, or analysis, only objective correlatives and other Anglo-supremacist babble, in the vein of the great fascists Eliot and Pound. Hezbollah is a very troublesome group of baddies, what with their weapons and murder and so forth. I couldn't agree more. However, Friedman, and the vast majority of the rest of the American news media, make it sound as if Arabs are these small animals with electronic chips in their brains, and everytime the twenty scheming terrorists of Hezbollah push a button the entire "Arab street" is compelled to tap dance in the Arab streets.

It was the New York Times' silliness to go along with Bushite propaganda and see the Lebanese 100,000 person demonstration a few days ago as further proof of the ineluctable and imminent flaming sword of "democracy" that isn't. What almost no one has reported about that demonstration, which was trumped quintiply by the pro-Syrian demonstration yesterday, is that it was almost all Lebanese Christians. The Christians, who I've got zero against, obviously find it in the interests of their safety and well-being to get the Syrians out and a more Western presence in. The counter-demonstration, though partially organized by Hezbollah, which as even the Bush Administration today was forced to admit is a powerful and legitimate political party in Lebanon (if we care about democratic representation), was made up of the majority Muslim population. For Friedman to make it sound like this was democracy vs. anti-democracy is fucking insane, immoral, and unbelievably negligent. It was what reductionists in the US like to call a "culture war". You've got two very different groups of people with very different interests. This is not the final battle between the white lion of democracy and the black vulture of fascism, with the white messiah riding in on Friedman's favored unit of freedom, the Lexus.

Friedman's bizarrely cartoonish editorial du jour is anything but bizarre anymore. In the latest issue of Time Magazine, some reactionaries over there had the unthinkable bravado to declare, and I quote, an "Arab Democratic Spring." That ejaculation is in keeping with the absolute nullity of accuracy in today's American journalism, as, of course, it isn't even the spring yet. We don't know what democracy is, and apparently we can't keep the seasons straight either. I'm a bit fed up.

It is becoming clearer by the day that America is imprisoned by some of the worst journalism ever. Contemporary American news coverage is poison. The recent uncovered scandals with the White House paying off journalists (and I say uncovered because the press scandal was uncovered and then un-covered by the press which means it was covered over), are only a more classic indication of what has been for a long time a propagandistic state of news. Just because we do not have, as of yet, one state controlled news source, does not mean that this bile is not propaganda. Rather, in keeping with the mythology of free market capitalism, the American "consumer" is allowed a choice between a number of flavors of propaganda. When programming is aired or not based on which advertisers pull their runs in outrage at something or other, it should already be clear that our media system is nothing other than the propaganda outlet for a corporatist state. The power portfolio is simply diversified; instead of a single autocrat, we have a few fascist icons miming popular consent.

Not only do I think the media is a problem, I do not think that effective political reform will ever be possible without there first being a somewhat free press that reaches a large enough audience. Everyday our vision of the world is constructed on the basis of hallucinogenic formulae kept in the cupboards of our nation's P.R. men, once known as reporters, who draw their "middle-class" salaries from corporate giants. One hand of the conglomerate hypnotizes the public as the other hand is paying off the senators. At least I can't declare bankruptcy anymore, and thus will be a much more responsible person.

There's no such thing as responsibility for Americans. That is the lesson we are taught every night. Responsibility died when the cacophony of lies, half-truths, and non-information grew so loud that no response could ever be heard.

1 Comments:

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Dan said...

Great post, Jeremy. It's mind-boggling that no one in the mainstream media has dwelled on the division between Lebanese Christians (like my man Eli) and Lebanese Muslims. The "groundswell of democracy" in Iraq, Lebanon, etc. is always in fact only supported by the section of the population that benefits from changing the government. The rest of the population of these countries is reluctant/anti-American.

 

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