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Beyond the Spin

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Beyond the Spin                                                                by Jay Farr 

Jack Nicholson, as Marine Corps Col. Jessup in "A Few Good Men" put it in words for Tom Cruise, a still wet-behind-the-ears JAG lawyer, "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH." 

In "The Presidio," Sean Connery, as an army colonel tells his old army buddy, Jack Warden, "We're like Dobermans, guarding the premises; when there is a threat, they want our services; but when the threat is over, they want us out of sight before the guests arrive." Or words to that effect.

If the current "adspinistration" were made up of old warriors such as those portrayed by Nicholson and Connery and Warden, I might understand their rationale for keeping certain truths from the American People. But the current administration is not being run by old warriors. Most of the main players are Neocons who have been dubbed "Chickenhawks,"* an appellation that refers to those who are quite prepared to send others to war, but who haven’t served in combat themselves.

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(*Note: Apologies to Robert Mason, author of the book by the same name; in his book the word has a completely different meaning. Mason used the term referring to his experience as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam: swooping out of the skies like a hawk and being "chicken," or plainly put, scared to death at the same time.)

Like Col. Jessup, the Bush/Cheney Neocons don't believe we can handle the truth; they don't trust the American People or the democratic process. The spin begins with that distrust. So, their real reasons for taking our kids into war are a mystery, camouflaged in platitudes. When one ruse is exposed, they quickly change the original mission from disarming WMDs to regime change to seeding democracy. Spin, spin, spin.   Media types like to use the phrase "reality on the ground," presuming to distinguish between spin and truth. But spin finally leads to reality, although the spin and the reality may be diametrically opposed. Take our "troop levels" in the Neocons' current war: the so-called surge really means playing the shell game with real soldiers and Marines, just as magicians use misdirection to fool a gullible audience. Yet young Americans really die and are maimed, and families back home actually lose loved ones and have their hearts ripped out and then the spin moves on to their heroism and sacrifice to protect our own freedom.

We hear fools parroting, "I'd rather fight them over there than here at home," a patent lie, because you know the parrots wouldn't fight them anywhere. 

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We must never buy into the falsehood that, "Perception is reality," giving in to the Rovian mantra that put Bush/Cheney in the White House for eight long, bloody years. Spin says our leaders are protecting us from terrorists while reality on the ground is that our sacred Bill of Rights is being maimed and our freedoms are being buried in flag-draped coffins.

There is overwhelming evidence that "spin doctors" can craft our reality, or at least influence it, in increasingly treacherous ways. The most common and obvious way is to manipulate the amoral news media, and it works, or has for the last seven years. Maybe we should fight fire with fire and spin right back. Spin is only as good or evil as the spinner. To paraphrase the gun lobby, spin doesn't get people killed; bad leaders get people killed.

So, in recognition that spin is so strong, so real and so vital, I want to do a little spinning myself:          

Criminals-in-Charge, spin this: 

Save America's Military: Impeach the Chickenhawks! 


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Fulbright in 1966-67; Visiting Lecturer in American Literature with Baghdad University/Texas University Exchange Program. Guest Lecturer for the American Authors Lecture Series for the United States Information Service in Iraq. Co-authored with (more...)

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