How the Media Weakens America

Now that Obama has triumphantly survived all the media-inspired attacks on him, maybe our media will be forced to recognize that the American people care more about real issues than about the trivial irrelevancies our media so love.

As if.

Our media have drifted so far from reality that merely stating the obvious (that we have a stratified class system, or that American working men are quite justifiably 'bitter') is considered to be taking an 'extreme position'. This may be because people who aren't rich seem to be invisible to news analysts. When economists and conservative analysts talk about 'most Americans' it becomes apparent that they assume 'most Americans' make half a million dollars a year--just like the folks they play golf with.

American executives now average 400 times what their workers make. In Europe the figure is 10, and before Reaganomics it was only 20 her in the United States. Yet to discuss class inequity in the media as a fact of contemporary American life is 'simply not done'. Everyone must parrot the conventional slogans: "we're Number One, everyone envies us, we're the land of opportunity, we're affluent, yet egalitarian, we're perfect just as we are, and anyone who says we're not is a traitor".

Working to make your country better is patriotic. Pretending it's already perfect is a terminal disease.

While our media go all aflutter about people not wearing label pins, prize-winners refusing to thank Jesus, or generals being insulted just because they lied to congress, the American people are hungry to have someone be so 'rude' as to speak the truth about the world we actually live in. To acknowledge the fact that our infrastructure, our educational system, and our health care system are all marching toward Third World status--sacrificed by the most corrupt government since Warren Harding in order to pamper the pathologically greedy.

Nor does patriotism mean kissing the behind of whatever politician happens to be running the country. Opposition to Robert Mugabe, to the Burmese junta, to every dictator who ever lived, is always called treason by those in power, but such opposition is invariably an attempt to rescue the nation from disaster.

So it's amusing to hear Bush, Cheney, and their cronies whining that 'this isn't the Scott we knew', i.e., the butt-kissing sycophant he used to be. How could he have become so disloyal, so unpatriotic, as to tell the truth to the American people! How rude and inappropriate, the media seem to be echoing.

Genuflecting to authority has become the permanent pose of the American media and the couch potatoes to whom they cater. The media seem to be on a campaign to replace our national symbol, the eagle, with a sheep.

Governments exist to serve the people, not the other way around. The Burmese rulers have made it very clear how little the welfare of the Burmese people matters when weighed in the scale against holding onto military power. And the current Republican administration seems to be cast in the same mold. Their response to every crisis has been to create another bureaucracy, chip away at our constitutional freedoms, and tell the American people to go shopping.

Despite all their talk about 'supporting the troops', the Bush-Cheney junta have failed miserably even to do that. They sent our soldiers into battle on false pretenses, without a coherent plan, in insufficient numbers, with insufficient equipment to protect them, gave them insufficient rest, reduced their veterans benefits, refused to give them adequate medical treatment, ignored their psychological traumas, and called them cowards if they objected.

Eighteen veterans commit suicide every day, a statistic the Bush administration, with its Kremlinesque passion for secrecy, tried to cover up, and 30% of Iraq and Afghanistan vets suffer from PTSD. This is the Republican version of 'supporting the troops'.

Republican politicians who successfully avoided serving in the armed forces themselves are shamelessly quick to question the patriotism of those who have already made that sacrifice. Yet the media still tend to frame political debate as if Republicans were troop-supporters.

The Iraq war, which has impoverished our people, nullified our influence abroad, weakened America and made it more vulnerable, has achieved only one goal: it has allowed the Bush-Cheney regime to aggrandize itself with dictatorial powers unprecedented in American history.

It's all too easy today to understand Germans in the 1930s. We have only to look at ourselves, and the slavish media we patronize.