At present, Forty-six percent of the American people hold the delusion that Saddam Hussein was involved in the planning and execution of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1169
This statistic comes to light as ABC/Disney airs a drama based on 9/11 that contains the corresponding degree of historical accuracy regarding the circumstances that led up to the tragic events of that day as an average episode of The Flintstones in depicting daily life during the Stone Age.
What are the cultural circumstances that allow such mass deceptions to be perpetrated with seeming impunity? Will these Rovian prevarications, so rife within the corporate media bubble, continue to define our life and times? Will our destinies, both individual and collective, continue to be determined by these pervasive deceits --- these pernicious narratives, concocted by cadres of elitist fabulists, perpetuated with the intention of frightening and distracting that portion of our population comprised of gullible, anxious, over-sized, over-aged, dim children?
When the events and circumstances of our lives become terrifying, daunting, and unbearable, we are prone to create waking dreams of deus ex machina: of risen and returning saviors, of eternal feasts and attentive virgins in paradise, of communion with space brothers, and decisive, time-ending wars that will forever banish all sin and suffering. During times of trauma and uncertainty, we seek narratives of reassurance -- even clinging to ones that are spurious -- even preposterous. Ergo, George W. Bush will restore "dignity to the White House." Right! -- And druggy Rush Limbaugh will restore dignity to the Crackhouse.
Thus, for nearly two decades, the anxious minds of post-Reagan conservatives have had an obsessive need to believe it is possible to return to a fictional past, to a golden era populated by well-turned out, obedient children, dutiful wives, and docile minorities. All of whom were lorded over by morally upright white men who wielded their righteous power guided by the grace, mercy, yet perpetually brittle temper of the All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Ever-Lasting, Long-Bearded, Bony Ass, White Man in the Sky.
But all monuments to delusion need not be as epic as that. Even objects as quotidian and seemingly innocuous as neighborhood street signs can and will deceive us. Names can be misleading. Moreover, these everyday -- seemingly trivial -- misapprehensions can diminish our lives.
A sampling of such: The Manhattan neighborhood where I reside, the East Village, is a misnomer. It's name was created by real estate hustlers, who, acting on the presumption that the property values of the area, located north of Houston Street and east of Second Avenue, known previously as the northern section of The Lower Eastside, or The Alphabets or simply DON'T GO THERE! would be enhanced by said name change. The connotations of the name, The Lower Eastside, would have, at that time, had a tendency to scare off the sort of tenants who had the means to afford the newly jacked-up rents being asked for the former tenement apartments comprising a large percent of the area.
The marketing move was contrived to attract faux hipster careerists and those radical-until-daddy-takes-away-his-Platinum-Card-Trust-Fundafarians, whose pretensions and vanities led them to believe the designation "Village" invoked an artistic cachet to their corporate-controlled lives, but who would not abide the risks and squalor inherent to the sorts of neighborhoods that have been forsaken by all but poor working families, squatters, drug addicts, the mentally ill, non-conformists, as well as, by those renegade creative types too engaged in creating the future of art, music, and poetry to be overly concerned by the risks of such environs nor troubled by the attendant low status their address held among uptown trendies.
For the next case in point, I'll travel southward and back in time, a number of decades.
I was born in the Deep South, industrial city of Birmingham, Alabama, another example of a place in possession of a fraudulent name.
Birmingham was founded by steel and coal barons from Pittsburgh, who -- in an attempt to ameliorate the worldwide perception of American southerners as being dumb as dirt, backwoods, genetic retreads, too-ignorant-to-hit-the-ground-with-their-own-piss yokels -- christened their colonial creation with the name Birmingham, in order to brand it with a proper "city of industry" cachet.
Subsequently, the bloodsucking, Yankee bastards (I mean, visionary captains of capitalism) who were known in Birmingham as the "Big Mules" went about the business of exploiting (of course, they would say, giving gainful employment to...) every dumb as dirt, backwoods, genetic retread, too-ignorant-to-hit-the-ground-with-his-own-piss yokel who had the requisite physical stamina and motor skills required to sacrifice their bodies and souls for substandard wages.
As the riches, plundered from the Appalachian Hills, flowed northward to Pittsburgh, what the laboring classes received in return was a life of ceaseless toil and perpetual debt. These harsh realities made the people of Birmingham hard and mean. In the early nineteen-sixties, the city was unofficially re-christened "Bombingham."
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