by Philip Greenspan
"Beware of the newspapers. They will have you hating the oppressed and loving the people doing the oppressing"
(Swans - December 3, 2007) In the film Jimmy Carter Man from Plains, Carter rightly complains that most of those critical of his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, including journalists, had not read it -- it takes time after all to read a book. A book on a controversial matter that provides profound arguments will induce most people who have not read it, but not wishing to appear ignorant, to weigh in on a discussion. Although they possess only limited understanding of the subject, they'll pursue an argument that seems appropriate based on their superficial knowledge. It follows that those who have feelings on either side of the Palestine/Israel issue know where to line up to praise or pan the Carter book. Not having read it, to justify their opinion, they rely on a review of the book that reflects their forejudged opinion. And if they haven't read a review they resort to an ad hominem attack of the author invoking a newly constructed description of Carter -- "He is a considerate and thoughtful humanitarian," or "He was a disaster as a president and is an anti-Semite."
Carter's observation can be expanded to almost every conceivable issue. It seems that those with limited knowledge of a subject often hold strong opinions on that very subject and can be most obstinate and close-minded about their position.
The ruling class cannot permit citizens to take positions at variance with their interests if they want to maintain their power and prestige. Accordingly their mainstream media masterfully manipulates public opinion to conform to those interests. From time to time the media will raise specific issues to prominence -- crime, immigration, gay marriage, enemy threats, etc. As the issue builds, the media subtly advocates a position that is continually reinforced with a preponderance of editorials, op-eds, etc. Periodic analyses undertaken by the media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting consistently proves that right-wing authors, pundits, columnists, and think tanks excessively comment on issues the media tackles.
The public digests what it is fed -- a diet that does not contain much of an opposition view -- just enough to satisfy those gullible folks that the issue has been thoroughly aired. They can then flaunt their new-found wisdom -- criticizing more intelligent people and refusing to open their minds to differing thoughts!
Although numerous intelligent voices in the alternate media were contradicting the lies that the Bush administration was spouting, those lies were picked up and amplified by echoing voices in the mainstream media. It didn't take long after the truth became known for people to realize that they were conned and for public opinion to turn from a strong pro-war to a strong antiwar stance.
I regularly screen films on subjects that usually contradict the elite perspective. Reactions I have encountered upon inviting people to the films or during the discussions that follow a screening confirm how successful those shrewd media indoctrination campaigns are.
One of the most misrepresented issues has been the coverage of the conflict between the state of Israel and the Palestinians. A couple of years ago I screened Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land, a film that reveals the means by which the media favors the Israelis. The discussion that followed was quite heated -- about an equal number supportive and critical of what was shown. No one questioned or contradicted any evidence presented in the film. A typical critical comment was that the film itself was biased. One critic claimed it failed to mention that Israeli civilians were unarmed. Another viewer responded that he had lived on a kibbutz and that every member was armed with a rifle! The objectors were stunned and no longer commented.
Another important media concern is the suspicious and inexplicable occurrences involving the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A thoroughgoing investigation producing an in-depth coverage of those attacks and their implications would fill newspapers for weeks and would promptly boost circulation. But that subject is verboten. Over the years there have been many potential hot-button items that the elite wants smothered. So the media effectively puts the kibosh on them by stigmatizing them as "conspiracies." The media ingeniously appended a connotation of kookiness to the word "conspiracy" and the public obligingly deprecates and ignores issues designated as such.
A week before films about the 9/11 attacks are shown a vigil is conducted on a busy street where passing pedestrians are offered flyers publicizing the screening. Conversations frequently ensue. Many having been well indoctrinated with mistrust of "Conspiracy Nuts" will pooh-pooh the showing, refuse to accept the flyer, and make derogatory remarks about our intelligence and gullibility. Skeptics and cynics who view the 9/11 films will usually admit that while they may not accept all the film's reasoning their previous thoughts and positions have been altered and they are no longer accepting the Establishment's positions.
The distorted facts and concealments of the media will eventually, just like Bush's lies, be exposed. The alternative media, which includes the films I show, is an important factor in hastening that day. Armed with the grim reality of the situation an aroused citizenry will demand an end to war and the implementation of cautious and sensible policies. All who are aware should aid these efforts and in one way or another spread the word.
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