October 12, 2002
Anti War Rage Spilling Through Media BlackoutNow Congress has given its go-ahead for war. Thursday there was a colossal sonic boom in Washington, an event of massive proportions, up there among the most significant events of the tumultuous post-election 2000 period. The Senate essentially abandoned any authority over war in the Middle East, awarded Bush a further chunk of autocratic power, and set in motion a process that will bring great bloodshed and death. There was a colossal boom, so huge its massive amplitude was beyond the hearing range of mere humans. And the next morning all was silent.
It seemed silent because the media were silent. Because there was no report of repercussions, it seemed that there were no repercussions. Americans were given the impression that their own reactions of fear, anguish, or rage, were something they alone felt. Out in the real world it seemed that all was business as usual. For many Americans the reality created by the corporate news media is their reality.
We all hope we will not be the ones who are killed, injured, made homeless, crippled, starved to death, raped, disfigured, burned, poisoned, given cancer, or are victim to any of the other horrible acts of war. In America, we feel fairly sure the victims will be someone else, someone we will never see or know. But we don't feel quite as certain of that as we did a couple of years ago. In fact, Americans probably feel less safe than at any time in the last century and a half. And like slaves on a plantation, when danger comes we have no one to turn to for protection except our masters, our tormentors. And they have shown us they do not have to protect us. They taunt us with fear. They use the fear to create license for themselves.
The legislators passed a war powers resolution that seemed little more to most of them an act of political maneuvering, one small concession in a giant political bartering game. Just business as usual. The pretended opposition party acquiesced almost totally, went completely supine. They just wanted to get the dirty business over with. They were losing the election game as it was. Now they have another chance.
There is, however, anti war sentiment bubbling up in the land, overflowing its boundaries. The silence in the media about the demonstrations of antiwar sentiment is so pervasive it is startling. The stillness is colossal. It is striking how completely the major media black out these events that are so topical, that are of major significance even if only from the standpoint that they are an aspect of war, which is one of the most significant of all human events, the breakdown of civilization, of all law and civility.
The big media will treat the subject of the war itself as news, but not in an informative, balanced way, only as propaganda, as an incessant pounding on people's sensibilities until they no longer have the mental fortitude to resist.
When thousands of people came out to demonstrate against the war in Central Park last week, there was almost no coverage. A cavernous, yawning silence from the major media. Occasional pieces on demonstrations poked through in papers across the country as demonstrations broke out from New York to Alaska. But to the major media, this was not a phenomenon. This was not news.
When a major media organ did deign to report on a demonstration it usually riddled the text with subconsciously aimed daggers to sully the image of the subject. They portrayed demonstrators as sweaty, or hippies, or lowlifes, or too old, or too young, or goofy looking, or so diverse they represented only a catchall of special interests, not a significant, focused movement.
The fact is the anti-war demonstrators are an astonishing mix of Americans across a huge social spectrum, from very young to very old, all races, most classes, perhaps excluding the super rich. There are many Republicans who oppose the war, many veterans and active military men. There's an enormous spectrum, primarily because the war is a lie. It's not about weapons of mass destruction. That phrase serves as a mantra for self hypnosis but few believe it deep down. Certainly Cheney and Rumsfeld and the big players know they are lying. Dubya must surely know, but there's always a little mystery with him about what he knows. He does such a brilliant job of portraying a dunce, it's hard to know how much of it is a clever, manipulative front.
The major media's almost total disregard for the demonstrations is an obvious strategy to help stifle any self-awareness of the nascent anti-war movement. Obviously self awareness is essential to the growth of any movement, and lack of it can nip the flower in the bud. But the blackout is not totally working. The rage is boiling over, gaining too much force to be effectively contained. Of course the rulers have anticipated all these possibilities and they have plans, many of them for dealing with almost any imaginable contingency. But no one knows how well, or how long they can contain the public's displeasure with the war. They'll try to make the war very quick in order to get it past the American people, who they know have almost no tolerance for Vietnam-style imperial wars. Because they want to get it over with fast, it will be extremely brutal. They will use Iraq as a test case to show the world what can happen to any country that gets on the wrong side of the world's only superpower. The outlook is pretty grim. But it is encouraging that the will of the people is becoming aroused.
Antiwar energy is circulating like a bolt of lightning through the body politic via the macro nervous system of telecommunications and the Internet. Now people who have anguished in solitude about the hijacking of America by oil pirates are starting to meet each other on the street. Their virtual allies whom they have encountered on the Internet are appearing to them in the flesh. The potential power latent in that vast antiwar population is enough to make any nuclear explosion seem microscopic in comparison. The Bush puppeteers are well aware of all of this, but no one, not even they can predict how this will play out. The future is being created by our actions now.
So make some noise! Don't let your so-called representatives get away with whoring for special interests instead of representing you and the vast majority who opposes this stupid, dishonorable war. It is time to create an alternative future to what Bush and the oil thugs have in mind for us.
-- By David Cogswell