January 14, 2008

Choosing To Believe What We Want To Believe

The story of "Caesar", an Iraqi soldier who opened fire on his US colleagues when they assaulted a pregnant woman, has become the top item in Iraqi news, although it has been virtually ignored in the Western media. Now it is also the top story at Alternet.

When I first saw a bland report on this incident in the Fairfax press (straight off the wires), it related the incident for an official US government and military point of view. I emailed the editors with details and URLs for the Iraq version of the story. They replied that there was already a (very, very tiny) mention of the Iraqi version of events, and that was enough for them. Little wonder most Westerners do not understand what is going on in Iraq, or why.

In the comments on the story at Alternet, I read this plaintive cry:
I don't understand this need to believe that US is a benevolent power, and we generally do what is right except for the occassional 'bad apples' who screw up things.

Consider the following scenarios since WW2:

1. Bay of Pigs
2. Gulf of Tonkin
3. USS Liberty
4. Coup against Mossadeq
5. Coup against Allende (the original 9/11/73)
6. Iran-Contra
7. Shooting down Iranian Ariliner flight
8. FBI infiltration of antiwar movement in 60's
9. Mai Lai massacre
10. Falluja and the use of illegal chemical weapons
11. Haditha Massacre
12. Iraq-WMD and AlQaeda connections

There are so many other examples. Why is it that a majority of us continue to buy the US government propaganda?
There was only one reply:
I seriously doubt that any significant portion of American citizens know anything about the events you listed; and more significantly, I doubt any care. Americans generally prefer to approach their government as they approach their God, with religious faith. There is no questioning it. The academic performance of American youth is infamous, and getting worse. They are too busy to read a book, probably fighting over who is the father of their illegitimate child. I say these things because you asked why. In a democracy that depends upon the active participation of highly literate intelligent citizens it should be obvious why this country has become a monstrosity.
Are we supposed to just write off the whole Iraq War, the Bush administration, and even the "dream that was America", as just a harsh lesson in human nature? Is that really the best we can do?


Bukko_in_Australia said...

Why is it that a majority of us continue to buy the US government propaganda?

You probably sense this already, but I'll say it anyway because I like to hear myself talk. Or write, as the case may be...

We (not you and I, of course) believe the U.S. propaganda for the same reason we believe that Dad is a good guy, and that God will make everything all right in the end. Because it's just too damn scary to acknowledge that there's no wise man in control, that life can be wrecked by random
events, that the abyss may be yawning and there's nothing to protect us from falling in.

Much more comforting to think that old dad is noble. Ignore how he beats us, and is humping the trampy neighbour lady down the street. Keep on thinking the U.S. will protect freedom the way it did in World War II, not that it's just another greedy land of exploiters. Pray that God, or Allah, or your supernatural sky being of choice, has some plan for all your misery, instead of knowing that when you're done, all you get is a dirt nap while your constituent atoms blend back into the oneness of matter.

That last bit gives me comfort, but it's not enough for many. So they stick with the comforting fables of FatherAmericaGod.

gandhi said...

I wake up every day and I go to work, you see. Sometimes as early as 6 am. I grab a coffee and I scan the morning news as I work my way through the emails...

Ten dead in Iraq. Or fifty dead. Or three hundred dead - it really doesn't matter any more. Lives destroyed. Senseless violence raging unabated.

Someone comes in. How are you, mate? Yeah, fine. Fine.

The polar ice cap is melting. Polar bears could soon be extinct. Bangladesh will be underwater in X years.

There is a meeting at 10 am. The expenses system is under review. Or something.

Meanwhile, the US economy is set to collapse. Analysts agree that oil reserves have peaked. Realistic and renewable energy sources are still a good decade or more away.

I call my wife. Chat to my baby girl for a bit. She's been to the park. There was a turtle on a rock. He had a funny neck.

Lunch time. I stagger out into the sun. Or the rain. It really doesn't matter sometimes.

Every day like that. Where will it end?

Human nature, infinitely inspiring and infinitely depressing. We should not hope for perfection. But is it too much to hope for some basic improvements?

So it goes.

Bukko_in_Australia said...

"So it goes" indeed. Vonnegut knew. People should forget about the Bible, and the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita, and read him instead...


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