Thursday, July 2, 2009

Long-lasting Propaganda Effects

I was in a conversation yesterday with a young teen from Mississippi while the two of us were doing some work for his grandfather here in Toledo. "What did you-all think of the war?" he asked me. "You mean Iraq or Afghanistan?" I questioned. "The one about 9-11, you know, Saddam and all," he said. Puzzled and curious, I asked him, "What does Saddam have to do with 9-11?" His answer should not have surprised me, but it did. He said, "Saddam and that other dude in the mountains planned that attack on us!"

His dad is a Marine Reserve who never traveled much out of Mississippi until he went to Iraq. Obviously, his dad believed all of the Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice propaganda, especially the Iraq/9-11 linkage that was carefully juxtapositioned in each of those speeches as well as those of George Bush. Lots of Americans believed the bullshit wrapped around Patriotism and our lust for vengeance. Emerson warned that when we are blinded by Patriotism we ought to explore the cleanness of our hands and purity of our hearts. I wonder even today whether we have done that.

Most Americans these days have come to realize what some of us knew bang-off: it was a stinking piece of propaganda to convince the citizens of this nation to support the neocon's principle of preemption for a New World Order. The South, on the other hand, has been slow to admit that they were, in fact, bamboozled. Their Patriotism, their love of the military, blinded them. And even today, the residual effects of the propaganda fester, like salmonella on a warm afternoon.

After yet another attempt to set the lad from Mississippi straight on the facts of the Saddam non-involvement, he then asked the most important question, "Then why DID we invade Iraq?"

Yes, son, why did we? The naivete of youth. Surely there were other youth in other lands in other times who asked a similarly pointed question of the elders. No doubt, the German children must have asked in the years following Hitler's demise, "Opa, warum hat das deutsche Volk glauben, Hitler?

Indeed, why?

The answer, my son is because there have always been scoundrels and miscreants and egomaniacal despots who have risen to power, who lacked the wisdom and moral fiber required of them to lead their people carefully. History books detail their bloody misadventures and the subsequent abuse of the young men.

When will we ever learn? Perhaps never.

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