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Land of the Puppet People

By       Message Manuel Valenzuela     Permalink
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Gone from their core, thanks to the comfortable and pampered existence they have been granted and the conditioning that has enveloped them from birth, is the fire that once lit brightly during the time of another American debacle, thriving inside the youth of a now vanished generation, a fire that granted radiance to bravery and warmth to courage, transforming a nation and a time, bringing truth to power and justice to criminality.

The fire that engulfed the sixties has been extinguished by consumerism, materialism and the glow of television, by an indifference that gives complacency a welcome embrace, by a collective amnesia that forgets yesterday and fails to recognize today, by videogame distractions and unenlightened passivity, and by the dark covers that have virtually eliminated from our consciousness the lost war in the Middle East, with millions of armchair protesters made placid to the cries of an America hemorrhaging to death, unwilling to create a movement, unable to leave the comfortable warmth of their homes, preferring to protest on the Internet, unable to mobilize more than a minute and insignificant number of souls while the nation rots and fascism grows.

Gone are the massive marches, campus insurrections, the defying solidarity, the movement that altered history. A giant tsunami of change that once brought the upper echelons of government to its knees has given way to those who have sold out to principles once held dear, no longer to be bothered by truth, justice and peace, and to younger generations suffering the laziness and ignorance spawned by the excessiveness of living in America. Gone is the military draft and the threat of conscription, once a tinderbox that fed fuel to the peace movement 's fire, for without it middle class America, white America, has no real vested interest in protesting, no loved ones to bring home, no friends to fight for, no sons and fathers to protest over, no funerals to attend, no threat of them being drafted.

In Iraq it is not their sons or fathers or brothers or daughters being maimed and dying. It is not their relatives or friends being psychologically damaged; they do not see the devastation done and the demons spawned. This is a war that does not hit middle class America close to home or inside their sphere of existence, where the heart is, where emotion flows and anger grows. To the great majority, the Iraq war remains an abstract reality, seen in images and in articles, not in the flesh or in immediate suffering. As such, and as long as the lower castes of American society are made to "volunteer " for war, with those from urban jungles or of rural regions comprising the armed forces, as long as middle class America is not conscripted, there will not exist a massive peace movement, the kind that once moved mountains and introduced fear into the halls of power. This the Bush Administration knows all too well, which is why they avoid it at all costs, while at the same time manipulating the system in a myriad of ways to assure itself of enough cannon fodder to continue its war of imperialism and occupation.

Warmongers One and All

The War Culture we are called, birthed from the first images of cartoons our innocent minds are bombarded with, their entire content based on conflict, aggression, violence and destruction, our brainwaves slowly manipulated and altered to suit the ways of war. Conditioned from infancy to accept the sounds of gunfire, the dropping of bombs, the violence of war, the violent conflict of man versus man, we in time become immune to death and violence, suppressing inside us feelings of horror and revulsion. As we begin getting older we are introduced to the magical world of Hollywood, full of pyrotechnic wonder and digital artistry, making us awe and gawk at exploding bombs and reverberating waves of thunderous booms, becoming wide-eyed by the destruction unleashed by the weapons of war and the heroes we fantasize about.

Transfixed by Dolby digital sounds, the concussions of bombs exploding in our ears, the whizzing of bullets flying by, mushroom clouds of fire and smoke emanating on screen, blood and guts spilled throughout, we are made to accept war and violence and destruction as inherent mechanisms of conflict resolution. Slowly but surely we are conditioned to believe that the brutality of man killing man is not as severe as we believe it to be, that blood and guts are but movie magic, that death and injury are as fictional as that seen in the movies. We are made to love mayhem; we are made to love weapons; we are made to accept violence; we are made to believe death is nothing more than the role an actor must play.

In our deluded minds, thanks to years of watching television and movies, lies the ingrained propaganda that everything the military does is benevolent and altruistic, as always fighting for "freedom and democracy, " for "human rights, " for the salvation from "tyranny. " In our distorted view of human reality, the US military is always the good guy fighting the enemy, who is always evil, a dreaded evildoer. This black and white view of the world has been firmly planted into our minds by the happy ending, good-guy always wins bull manure manufactured by the fictional geniuses in Hollywood, where America is always the winner and where the evildoer of the moment always gets killed or caught. In a war such as the present debacle in Iraq, therefore, where reality is hidden and truth suppressed, our instinct will always be to blindly believe, in spite of mountains of evidence to the contrary, that the US military has been sent to Iraq for good, altruistic and noble intentions.
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The truth, though, is altogether different, as evidenced by the devastation unleashed by the American military inside Iraq. The sadistic images that emerged from Abu Ghraib, the crimes against humanity being committed in Guantanamo and other such clandestine gulags, the death of perhaps 200,000 innocent Iraqis, the complete devastation of Iraq 's infrastructure, the indiscriminate shooting of civilians, the immeasurable level of suffering created as a result of occupation, the destruction of Fallujah missile, bomb and use of white phosphorus, the lack of electricity, sewage, fuel and adequate drinking water, the ongoing dropping of bombs and an increase in the aerial war are but a few examples of the wickedness exported into Iraq by America 's illegal and immoral invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. The complete collapse of society and unfettered chaos in the streets, the civil war now raging and expanding, the insecurity prevalent throughout the nation and the deep seated anger and hate brewing in Iraq are all a result of what our cherished military, at the behest of George W. Bush, has helped birth in a nation once tranquil and secure.

Yet to millions of Americans who either do not care or will never know reality, what we have done in Iraq is bringing "freedom and democracy, " even though women now have fewer rights than before invasion, freeing a nation from its tyrant, even though America has become the new tyrant, that they hate us for our freedoms, when in reality they hate us for our foreign policies, our imperialism and our support of ruthless tyrants, and "fighting them over there so we do not have to fight them over here, " even though there were no terrorists in Iraq before but now it has become a training ground for thousands who will one day use their expertise in order to inflict blowback at the United States.

Lost from the memory of tens of millions of Americans, whether conveniently or from the general amnesia now prevalent throughout society, are the myriad of excuses used to justify the illegal invasion and occupation, from WMDs, mushroom clouds, connections to 9/11 and Al-Qaeda. Lost is the reality that we are the invading Red Coats fighting against American Revolutionaries in the Iraqi version of the Revolutionary War and War for Independence, that the truth behind the Iraq war is freedom fighters trying to cleanse their lands of the imperial invaders intent on dehumanizing Iraqis, raping their women, killing and brutalizing their children, conquering their oil fields and possessing their geostrategic lands. We cheer freedom fighters in expensive Hollywood productions, yet not when we are the invaders and occupiers. Such is the power of propaganda. Thanks to incessant propaganda, however, tens of millions of Americans will continue to live in the illusion that we are fighting the so-called war on terror against Al-Qaeda, that Iraq is the central front in this mirage, that we are the defenders of humanity, pursuing evildoer bogeymen with no interest in controlling the vast oil fields deemed vital to the continued expansion both of our economy and the coffers of the military-industrial-energy complex.

After years of propaganda and conditioning, and thanks to continued and incessant brainwashing by the mainstream media, we readily accept war as an institution, as a product re-introduced every few years for the benefit of the state. War thus becomes a necessary component that we inherently associate, perhaps subconsciously, with the continued health of the nation and its economy. By association, then, war is good not only for the country but for us as individuals, assuring our children of continued excessiveness. Inside our minds exists the charade that without war we would not possess the vast wealth we have or the comfortable lifestyles we live in.

Yet we also know that without war, without our reckless grab for land and exploitation, the nation would stutter and cease to be the power that has allowed us to dominate the globe, pillaging the world 's people and their resources in the process, in wanton fashion exacerbating misery, regional wars, global warming, poverty and thus further imperiling the security of the planet. It is this reality that we are fully aware of yet refuse to accept or openly talk about, becoming the ugly truth that must never be allowed to escape its dark closet. It is better to live in denial and in hypocrisy than in the shantytowns exclusively reserved for billions of our fellow human beings.
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Millions of us know we owe our fruitful and gluttonous lifestyles to war, to the suffering of billions and the imperialist mechanisms controlled by us, yet many of us refuse to change our ways, refusing to act in opposition to the Empire, refusing to acknowledge that our lifestyle was born in sin, in human misery and in the invasion and colonization of alien lands. Living inside the belly of the beast, using and exploiting its many riches, living its comfortable reality, yet refusing to alter our standards of living or our comfortable existence, refusing to amend our crimes and stop our exploitation of the planet, we remain, as always, fully complicit in the crimes and destruction and misery unleashed by our government. Remaining silent, indifferent and ignorant to this reality does not absolve any of us.

Through silence we merely acquiesce to everything done in our name. Our failure or unwillingness to alter our ways, our inability or refusal to change the direction of this nation and the continued indifference or complicity to the plight of billions has unmasked us all. This hidden truth lies at the heart of us all, making us a nation of warmongers, one and all, of amnesiacs, one and all, of pampered and spoiled primates, one and all, a citizenry unapologetic in its complicity and acquiescence to imperialism, war and destruction through our excessiveness, comfortable lifestyles and deafening silence.

We are a nation asleep at the wheel, drunk off our self-exceptionalism and gluttony, ramming head on into the massive trunk of unthinking self-destruction, our arrogance blinding us to the giant cancer in our midst, addicted to materialism and television, every day dumbed down further, unwilling to learn about the world outside our infallible bubble, creating a snowball rolling downhill, gaining momentum and growing in size, in its path eviscerating the dreams and hopes of the future as well as an American past that once offered humanity a glimmer of hope in an ever-dwindling and myopic world.

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Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst and Internet essayist. His articles as well as his archive can be found at his blog, http://www.valenzuelasveritas.blogspot.com as well as at other alternative (more...)

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