Dr. Gerry Lower
Increasingly, the press abides the Bush administration, not because of its belief in the right wing agenda, but because its very self-concept is at stake, as a friend of the people in a nation birthed from the concepts of honesty, fairness and equality. If Bush is wrong, then America and the American right wing are wrong, and the mainstream press was wrong in supporting it all.
With the capture of Saddam Hussein in a rural Iraqi farmhouse, the world
can rejoice at America's deposing of yet another dictator, and the Bush
administration will highlight this "progress" in the war on
terrorism for all it is worth on the political front. But, the American
people need to be aware that Saddam's capture has very little to do with
the war on terrorism. It does, however, provide a glimpse into the reality
of terrorism in Iraq.
To the relief of pro-war Americans, Saddam's capture "couldn't have been any more humiliating" (Charles Gibson, ABC's Good Morning America, December 14, 2003). That humiliating end, however, also makes a statement about Saddam's actual role in directing terrorism in Iraq. To be sure, that humiliating end is also an indication that the attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq have been directed all along by Hussein loyalists with little need for direction from Saddam's "mouse-infested dirt hole."
While there is little evidence that Saddam's capture has anything to do with terrorism in the world at large, it does set the stage for increased terrorism in Iraq, if for no other reason than to demonstrate that Saddam had little to do with post-war Iraqi terrorism and even less to do with bin Laden's war on western culture.
But these larger interpretations of the war on terrorism are largely ignored by the American press as it celebrates "proof" that the "U.S. can do things right" (Michael Elliott, Time, December 14, 2003) and as it cheers the "success" of the Bush administration (USA Today, December 14, 2003). All of a sudden, the lies and fabrications which led America into war are unimportant. All of a sudden, the Bush administration is back on the right track, and the many instances of coercion have been vindicated, never mind the realities of an unjustified war against Iraq, never mind the realities of an ill-conceived Iraqi occupation.
A significant majority of the mainstream press is remarkably flexible and able to occupy whatever position is required by "patriotism," willing to re-evaluate the entire Iraqi incursion on the basis of an individual event, never mind historical views that lead to larger, less "patriotic" interpretations. Despite the moral shortcomings of the war and the Iraqi occupation, the mainstream press feels obligated to salvage the notion that America knows what it is doing under religious Republican dominion, that America is still a democracy, never mind Franklin's warnings to the people that a corporate aristocracy would ultimately lead to despotism and an American populace who would not know the difference.
It becomes more than relevant, therefore, to consider why the American press is able to abide the Bush administration's "in-broad-daylight" coercion of the American people. Why does the American press fail to see and interpret events within an honest, historical context? Why does the American press fail to connect the dots and see the larger process and direction of it all?
In consulting Jefferson or Franklin on this issue, we would learn that most human failings of this glorious magnitude are related to related factors, i.e., ignorance and fear, both of which abound in America and both of which are largely manufactured. Indeed, the Bush administration's use of fabrications to coerce support from the people is, by definition, an exercise in manufactured ignorance. But the failure of the American press is more related to manufactured fear.
In response to Bush administration fabrications, the mainstream press chose to accept that Saddam was in possession of nuclear, chemical and biological weaponry and that, in being able to use this weaponry at a moment's notice, Iraq posed an immediate and dire threat to America. These fabrications also nourished Bush's "religiosity" by providing a common, external enemy worthy of the people's fear (a traditional approach to religious unification).
Today the entire world knows that much of the rationale for a preemptive war against Iraq was fabricated, and that the actual war was unjustified by reasonable moral standards. While external fears still linger in the American cultural air, the Bush administration is no longer supported by those with a dire need for vengeance or for protection from Saddam's unfound weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration increasingly derives its support from internal psychological fears on the part of the American press.
To admit that the war on Iraq was launched on immoral ground, and to admit that the occupation of Iraq was launched on incompetent ground, would be nothing short of a crisis of self-identity and self-concept for the mainstream press. How can national reporters and columnists possibly get the unverified "facts" so wrong as to assist in misleading an entire nation? How can the mainstream press come to terms with its consistent failure to recognize inconsistency and coercion?
The answer is that no one can really come to terms with lies, least of all when they emanate from the Office of the President. The mainstream press is left little choice but to rest its interpretations on fabrication and blind faith in what America has become under religious Republican dominion. As the world's sole remaining "superpower," America is widely seen by conservatives as evidence of American infallibility and a virtual right to rule. At the same time, of course, seeing reality for what is real is not a particularly viable approach to selling "news" in a "you are with us or against us" world.
The mainstream American press has locked itself into an untenable position as a result of its own support of a preemptive war launched under false pretenses. There is no escape, no way to return to empirical reality without losing both face and faith. Increasingly, the press abides the Bush administration, not because of its belief in the right wing agenda, but because its very self-concept is at stake, as a friend of the people in a nation birthed from the concepts of honesty, fairness and equality. If Bush is wrong, then America and the American right wing are wrong, and the mainstream press was wrong in supporting it all. Acknowledging this in public is currently beyond the collective abilities of America's "free" press.
The era of Roman imperialism was characterized by self-righteous conquest and occupation in the name of Rome and the Roman god. Following the Lutheran and Protestant reformations (which marked the emergence of nationalism), the era of Catholic and Protestant colonialism was characterized by self-righteous conquest and occupation in the name of Nation and a National god. Today, the era of religious Republican capitalism is characterized by self-righteous conquest and occupation in the name of the corporate Family and a corporate god. For the individual, it comes down to doing whatever one must do to remain in the family and survive a "you are with us or against us" world.
The fear of damaging one's religious self-identity on the part of Bush's religious supporters (Why Good Religious People Believe Bush's Lies, www.opednews.com, November 18, 2003) and the fear of damaging one's professional self-identity (and risk one's source of earthly nourishment) on the part of the American press, will ensure that the Bush administration's agenda of religious capitalism, however inconsistent that might be with the values of Democracy, will be maintained and fulfilled to the extent possible.
Exactly where the Bush administration thinks it is taking the American people remains to be determined, by the rest of the world as much as by the Bush administration. The Bush program of conquest and occupation in the war on terrorism remains alive and well, as does terrorism itself.
Dr. Gerry Lower email@example.com lives in Keystone, South Dakota in the shadow of Mount Rushmore. He is published in the areas of molecular pathology/oncology/epidemiology, medical theory/philosophy/ethics, and global philosophy and ethics. Gerry has recently returned from Ukraine where he presented several papers on the values of science and democracy at the Kiev Medical Academy. His primary concern is the development of a rigorously-definable global philosophy and ethics suitable for a global democracy. This article is originally published at opednews.com. Copyright Dr. Gerry Lower, but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached.