By Mickey Z.
14 May, 2014
World News Trust
Photo credit: Mickey Z.
“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” – Aldous Huxley
Up until a couple of weeks ago, if I said the words “Boko Haram,” someone might’ve started singing “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” (insert rimshot here)
Today, thanks to a vigilant corporate media, we all know to instead scream: “assassins,” “Jihadists,” and “gun-wielding Islamist militants” using a “Bin Laden connection” to “commit atrocities with impunity” — with, of course, absolutely no hint of a whiter shade.
While we certainly should not defend the indefensible Boko Haram (or any such group), we also shouldn’t fall for yet another round of the timeworn U.S. humanitarian bullshit. Why the sudden concern for kidnapped African girls? The powers-that-be have their myopic, geo-political, and “strategic” reasons but that’s for another article.
For now, please remember: The U.S. government doesn’t give a damn about kidnapped African girls but it cares a whole lot about control, domination, resources, and keeping its own population thoroughly pacified via spin.
The Day They Captured Santa
Episode 11 of the old TV show, McHale’s Navy was called “The Day They Captured Santa.”
They, of course, were the heartless Japanese who ambushed Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale and his crew on Christmas Day as the kindly McHale played Santa Claus to a group of “native” children.
What kind of inhumane beast would do such a thing?
Dehumanizing the enemy is the first unwritten rule of war,” writes journalist Pierre Tristam. “The impulse is psychologically excusable, because it is easier to kill a subhuman thing than it is to kill a mirror image of yourself (a father, a lover, a son).”
Whether it be Santa-hating Japanese, fundamentalist kidnappers, savages, butchers, terrorists, evildoers, godless communists… or the never-ending parade of thugs auditioning for a starring role as the “next Hitler,” the officially story always involves a benevolent United States being compelled to give up its peace-loving ways to take on the worst humanity has to offer.
Wartime spin plays into our worst fears — the bogeyman — and here in the Home of the Brave™, that all started with the near-extermination of indigenous people.
“Wild beasts of the forest”
“America was established by conquest,” explains Paul Atwood, Senior Lecturer of American Studies at the University of Massachusetts. “Thus our nation was conceived and born in violence and bloodshed, in murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing, rape, pillage, and slavery.”
Translation: When the United States unselfconsciously uses “Apache” helicopters to quell “ethnic cleansing,” a bloody chapter of American history is cleverly veiled in the macho lingo of warspeak.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the estimated pre-1492 population of what is now called the United States ranges from 5 to 15 million. By the late 1800s, the number of indigenous people was down to 25,000. Such a holocaust is only possible if the long traditional of dehumanization is rigorously upheld.
“There is a profound historical legacy in the United States going back to people like George Washington, for example, describing Indians as ‘wild beasts of the forest’ and ‘savage as the wolf,’” writes author and activist, Ward Churchill.
North America’s indigenous population provided a fledgling nation with fertile testing ground for wartime spin. After successfully demonizing Native Americans, a similar strategy was employed next to justify the African slave trade and from there: a planet brimming with easily marketed “villains.”
“On the cold floor to die”
During the first Gulf War, for example, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti “refugee” named Nayirah stood before the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus. She tearfully described witnessing Iraqi troops stealing incubators from a hospital, leaving 312 babies “on the cold floor to die.”
The story was a hoax. Nayirah’s false testimony was part of a $10 million Kuwait government propaganda campaign managed by the public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. Rather than working as a volunteer at a hospital, Nayirah was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington.
“We didn’t know it wasn’t true at the time,” said Brent Scowcroft, President George H.W. Bush’s national security adviser. But, he admitted, “It was useful in mobilizing public opinion.”
Never forget, comrades, this is what we’re up against.
Note: To continue conversations like this, come hear Mickey Z. in person at Hunter College on May 17.
Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on a couple of obscure websites called Facebook and Twitter. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.