"It is only in folk tales, children's stories, and the journals of intellectual opinion that power is used wisely and well to destroy evil. The real world teaches very different lessons, and it takes willful and dedicated ignorance to fail to perceive them."
With the intensity of Dale Earnhardt, Jr vying for victory in the Daytona 500, America's mainstream media outlets have been racing furiously to imbue the citizenry of the Empire with unusually large doses of heavily choreographed agitprop.
Another unindicted US war criminal has casually ridden off into a peaceful crimson sunset. In response, pundits, talking heads, reporters and various other infotainment personnel are working feverishly to perpetuate America's collective delusion that we embody integrity, decency, and enlightened values.
Like virtually all of his predecessors and successors in the White House (regardless of their party affiliation), Gerald Ford was guilty of a host of egregious offenses against the human race. But the Big Lie must not die.
So in the wake of the United States' recent facilitation of Saddam Hussein's hanging, we in the self-proclaimed "bastion of human rights" are in the midst of six days of mourning for a man would have swung from the gallows long ago had he been judged by the same standards as Saddam.
In apparent deference to Ford's tireless efforts to advance America's savage brand of Capitalism, both the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ will be closed on Tuesday. Federal employees and postal service workers will also take the day off to mourn the loss of the 38th president (1).
Despite the deeply hypocritical show of reverence for one so maleficent, it is fitting that a military escort will deliver Ford's casket to the Capitol's Rotunda for viewing. Why wouldn't soldiers bear the body of the former leader of a fascist state replete with rampant corporatism, militarism, and pathological nationalism? And why wouldn't he lie in state in the Capitol's Rotunda? After all, Congress has been deeply complicit in creating and preserving the nightmare some refer to as Pax Americana.
Since much of the Empire's strength is derived from its stable base of obedient workers and consumers, preserving their illusions of the United States' inherent "goodness" is crucial. Toward that end, consider a sampling of some of the mainstream media's recent "Ford-lore".
On 12/27, Newsweek published a piece by Barry Werth. Genuflecting to his corporate paymasters, Barry asserted:
"Gerald Ford assumed the presidency when his government was sundering, qualifying him as one of history's bravest leaders."
As Werth continued with his seemingly benign discourse, it is highly likely that his facial appendage began to resemble Pinocchio's:
"Many of those people who originally deplored the (Nixon) pardon for short-circuiting history and eroding the notion that no one, not even the president, is above the law, came around to agree that it was best for the country."
The Washington Post eulogized Ford with a favorable comparison to another perpetrator of wanton slaughter, a man who was responsible for the deaths of over 200,000 Japanese civilians:
"Truman, Ford used to say, 'had guts, he was plain-talking, he had no illusions about being a great intellectual, but he seemed to make the right decisions.'"
"Many would say the same of Gerald Rudolph Ford."
The New York Times, the mainstream media's "bulwark of liberalism" fueled America's collective delusion with these choice quotes and observations:
...."He assumed power in a period of great division and turmoil," President George W. Bush said in a statement broadcast early this morning. "For a nation that needed healing, and for an office that needed a calm and steady hand, Gerald Ford came along when we need him most. During his time in office, the American people came to know President Ford as a man of complete integrity who led our country with common sense and kind instincts."....
"....After a decade of division over Vietnam and two years of trauma over the Watergate scandals, Jerry Ford, as he called himself, radiated a soothing familiarity. He might have been the nice guy down the street suddenly put in charge of the nation, and if he seemed a bit predictable, he was also safe, reliable and reassuring. He placed no intolerable intellectual or psychological burdens on a weary land, and he lived out a modest philosophy. "The harder you work, the luckier you are," he said once in summarizing his career. "I worked like hell."...."
(Author's Note: Citizens of the American Empire needed soothing reassurance of their greatness after the humiliating results of the imperial invasion of Vietnam. And like the mainstream media, "Jerry" put no "intolerable intellectual or psychological burdens" on them).
"....The pardon, intensely unpopular at the time, came to be generally viewed as correct. In May 2001, Mr. Ford was honored with a "Profile in Courage" Award at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. Senator Edward M. Kennedy spoke and said he had originally opposed the pardon. "But time has a way of clarifying past events," he said, "and now we see that President Ford was right."...."
"....His basic philosophy involved fiscal prudence, strong national defense, suspicion of alien lands and a belief that citizens should earn a living rather than be given one....."
(Author's Translation: Ford believed in slashing federal spending on programs benefiting humanity to enable increased military spending, was xenophobic, and was opposed to using public funds to aid the poor).
Now that you have perused samples of the rubbish our oligarch overlords are attempting to burnish into the minds of their unsuspecting plebeian underlings, consider how the affable "Jerry" enabled or caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of human beings and ensured that the ruling elite in the United States would reclaim the power they had begrudgingly ceded to the masses in the face of economic upheaval, civil unrest, and powerful progressive movements.
Like our current unitary executive, Ford did not get into the Oval Office by winning an election. Also like Bush, in spite of the fact that the people did not vote him into office, Ford brazenly defied the will of the American public on an issue of great magnitude. Exercising the integrity of the mythologized Ford, "Jerry" fulfilled his end of the bargain he had made with Alexander Haig (3). In exchange for his ascendancy to the Empire's throne, he shielded Richard Nixon from facing consequences for his multiple grievous transgressions of international and domestic laws.
Paving the way for Reagan and his successors to marginalize America's poor, minorities, and working class and to gut our Constitution, Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, chose to keep habitual war criminal Henry Kissinger(4) on as his Secretary of State, and elevated future mass murderers, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney to key White House positions.
Letting Nixon off the hook was a particularly sinister act in at least two ways. Ford, an unelected president in a purported constitutional republic, absolved a fellow patrician of grave violations of international law, the public trust, and the US Constitution. Thus Ford became Nixon's accomplice. At the same time, he landed a crushing blow for the moneyed class in their persistent assault on the republic envisioned by men like Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.
Bear in mind that Ford pardoned a man who was responsible for the deaths of at least 600,000 innocent civilians. During the invasion and occupation of Vietnam, Nixon ordered secret bombings of neighboring Cambodia. The goal was to strike North Vietnamese supply and transit routes, but unfortunately for the Cambodian people, the B-52 carpet bombings did not distinguish the nationalities of victims(5).
Nixon's use of illegal wire-taps was such a flagrant abuse of executive authority that Congress passed the FISA Law in 1978 to prevent similar breaches of Constitutional law (6). In the wake of Nixon's immunity from prosecution, the Bush Regime has subsequently ignored the FISA Laws and run roughshod over the Constitution, without consequence. Thank you for setting the precedent, "Jerry".
Ford also enabled Nixon to evade prosecution for obstruction of justice, perjury and possible income tax evasion (7). The IRS eventually ordered Nixon to pay $467,000, a relative pittance for a man of his means.
Despite the damage and suffering they left in their wake, Nixon and Ford both lived in security and wealth until their mortality finally caught up with them. Saddam met his maker as he dangled from the end of a rope.
Like his predecessor, Ford was quite enamored with Henry Kissinger. He once summarized him with this quip: "wonderful person. Dear friend. First-class Secretary of State. But Henry always protected his own flanks."
Once Ford assumed the Empire's helm, he wasted little time before collaborating with Kissinger in another imperial escapade. Consider the US role in Indonesia's genocide that killed over 200,000 East Timorese:
"Jakarta Godfathers" by John Pilger, Guardian, 7 September, 1999:
"No help came, because the western democracies were secret partners in a crime as great and enduring as any this century; proportionally, not even Pol Pot matched Suharto's spree. Air Force One, carrying President Ford and his secretary of state Henry Kissinger, climbed out of Indonesian airspace the day the bloodbath began. "They came and gave Suharto the green light," Philip Liechty, the CIA desk officer in Jakarta at the time, told me. "The invasion was delayed two days so they could get the hell out. We were ordered to give the Indonesian military everything they wanted. I saw all the hard intelligence; the place was a free-fire zone. Women and children were herded into school buildings that were set alight - and all because we didn't want some little country being neutral or leftist at the United Nations." And all because western capital regarded Indonesia as a "prize"."
Declassified in 2001, several US government documents (8) clearly demonstrate that "Jerry" and Kissinger gave Suharto, Indonesia's leader, their blessing to do as he wished with East Timor. Shortly thereafter Suharto launched a wave of US-supported state-sponsored terrorism (9) that lasted until 1999.
Obviously, Gerald Ford was far more shrewd and Machiavellian than the mainstream media's recent wave of white-washing would indicate. Aside from his complicity in Nixon's crimes (for which our Ministry of Truth has exculpated Ford by concluding that the pardon was necessary to "heal the nation"), and his role in the carnage in East Timor, he also aligned himself closely with J. Edgar Hoover. Ford played a pivotal role in the Warren Commission's affirmation of Hoover's "lone-assassin theory". As a member of the Warren Commission, Ford convinced the group to alter the final version of their report to conclude that the same bullet killed Kennedy and severely wounded Texas Governor Connally. Robert Morningstar, who has researched the Kennedy assassination extensively, stated that the Ford revision was "the most significant lie in the whole Warren Commission report."(10)
Admittedly, some of the positive qualities and deeds the corporatized Fourth Estate has recently been attributing to Gerald Ford are true. However, their apotheosis of a man who harmed far more people than those whom the US state and federal governments murder each year (in open defiance of the Eighth Amendment) reveals the truly deceitful and malignant nature of the mainstream media in the United States.
Ostensibly, our society in the United States is based on democratic principles. In such a society, the purpose of the press would be to act as an independent check on the government's power. However, our evolution into a corporate-dominated fascist state has obliterated the media's independence. A handful of colossal corporations owns or controls over 90% of the mainstream media outlets in the United States.
As a result of this incestuous relationship, the Washington Post, CNN, and a mélange of others are but mouthpieces of the government singing a seductive chorus that engenders and sustains the Big Lie. Occasionally they bleat feeble opposition to imperialism and our rapid regression into a nation resembling a banana republic, but most of the time they beat the drums of war, promote the interests of the wealthy, manipulate the hoi polloi with fear, and perpetuate the myths of America's virtue. Ethical journalists have little or no opportunity to ply their craft in such an environment.
Those who remain captive to the Big Lie will spend the next few days mourning the passing of a man who was fortunate to escape the death penalty with which his country is so infatuated. Those same comforting delusions of superiority, entitlement, and invincibility that enable men like Gerald Ford to act with impunity will entice many Americans to continue wearing the intellectual manacles of the Empire.
As frightening as it may be, it is spiritually and mentally liberating to realize and admit that one of "our own"--an Eagle Scout, a football hero, a Christian, a White heterosexual male, a Capitalist, and an "American"--was capable of the savagery and lawlessness that minds shackled by the Big Lie can only ascribe to "terrorists" like Saddam Hussein.
Despite its tendency to inflict pain, the truth will indeed set you free.
Sources and Further Reading: