Wednesday, March 12, 2008
By John Steppling
Source Cyrano's Journal
I CAME ACROSS TWO RECENT ARTICLES relating to the creation of enemies, and the dehumanizing of same. One was a release from central command regarding the sale of t-shirts on military bases in Iraq. The t-shirts in question had anti Islamic slogans and jokes printed on them. Now, the sale of these t-shirts was being stopped, finally, but the slogans were mostly about killing "towel heads" and "sand niggers".
The other item was an interview in Front Page magazine (the far right nut sheet put out by David Horowitz).
This "interview" with a "former" Muslim was pure bullshit—pure right wing racist PR — but it was being widely read by the troops, according to my soldier pal in Iraq.
The "interview" with a "former" Muslim was mostly about how one dimensional Islam was, how dangerous it was, how "freedom loving" people must fight this religion and so forth.
Now, taken together what struck me was the naked de-humanizing of the enemy. This is what most armies try to achieve with their soldiers, making it easier for these soldiers to kill without conscience.
The prevailing POV for a good many Americans these days is that Islam is backward and bad. The disturbing thing is how in an age of mass culture and media this mind set is finding its way into mainstream thinking. Sadism is popularly accepted; witness 24 and the new Rambo film (which is so bad it really doesn’t deserve any substantive comment).
There are many other examples, the entire "debate" about waterboarding (TORTURE) is reflective of this new sadism. I should be clear that mankind has always been sadistic, it’s only that it has of late found its way as a narrative trope and prevailing value into public discourse. That high elected officials in the US now openly embrace torture and mass death as part of their realpolitk seems a significant step toward total barbarism.
The recent coverage of Chavez and the tensions with Colombia are a good example too of the intensification of mass propaganda. Greg Palast has an excellent piece… http://www.gregpalast.com/ and this other piece on same topic… http://www.counterpunch.org/hylton03062008.html
THE US HAS REACHED Nazi like dimensions in disinformation. Corporate news simply denies viewers anything remotely like serious news or fact. When the NYTimes hires Bill Kristol, one knows full well they won’t be hiring a Greg Eillich or Ed Herman or Michael Parenti to balance things out. Obama and Hillary blame Ecuador and Chavez and not Colombia. The Imperialist power again sides with the fascists. The increase in what amounts to ethnic cleansing in Gaza is another side of this Orwellian fact-blackout. Here is Richard Seymour, on one of his better topics…. http://leninology.blogspot.com/2008/03/israel-planning-ethnic-cleansing-in.html
This post is short, again due to time restraints, but I suspect the rise of a new aestheticization of sadism is a step qualitatively different and further than that of a Dirty Harry, say. This is the hyper drive in propaganda that results from the increase in contradictions and tension in the society and culture. It is dependent on compartmentalizing psychologically, and on mass media cooperation to achieve a near total numbness in people. Invent "bad guys" and then make them even badder — and create narratives to justify the most blatant repression of civil liberties and basic compassion. The new steroidally deformed and blanker Rambo is the poster boy for such reflex violence and de-contextualizing. Mercenaries as heroes, even if one can’t really identify the heroic act. Doesn’t matter. More noise, more bodies blown apart, and more knee- jerk religious reductionism (there are missionaries to be saved in the latest Stallone abortion of a film). History is being re-written with increasing speed. And fact and fiction have blurred almost completly. Scalia likes to reference Jack Bauer and the average US citizen grasps geo-political facts from Stallone movies or Bill Kristol op-eds, or if liberal, from Obama and Hillary. Fast track to barbarism.
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