Fox News's Linda Vester reported today that some "very strange statements" are coming out of Afghanistan: the Taliban are saying that the attacks of 911 were a direct result of U.S. foreign policy and that Americans should avoid war and "think for themselves." Holy Smokes, those are strange statements! Especially from the standpoint of the Imperial War Propaganda Channel, home of the ignorant raving thug Bull O'Reilly, who just hates it when people think for themselves about war, peace, justice, and history.
O'Reilly's role, at least, is represented accurately as that of a commentator. But Vester is supposed to be an anchorwoman. Her "very strange" sermonette requires little additional comment other than the observation that this is apparently what Fox's "We report, you decide" policy is going to consist of, during what passes for wartime.
What aired next on Fox News deserves more comment. Immediately after Vester's mini-editorial, the network broke for commercials, segueing with one of those newly ubiquitous "patriotic" promos featuring one of Our Suddenly Great Leaders speaking over melancholy but stately orchestral accompaniment. In this one, George W. Bush was claiming that the attacks of Sept. 11 have succeeded only in making the country stronger. I'm not sure, but I doubt that any of Fox News's objective telejournalists greeted Bush's remarks, when he first made them, as a "very strange statement coming out of Washington today."
In a nutshell, that's what has set me to wondering whether Americans have gone mad or have just lost 40 IQ points overnight. Well, that, plus what I once called "hippopotamus denial" the self-inflicted blindness that keeps virtually all the people allowed access to the official media from seeing the great stinking hippopotamus blundering about their living room: from recognizing, in short, that 911 was plainly provoked by the imperialistic foreign policy of the New York-Tel Aviv-Washington axis.
Hearing Bush's bizarre statement, a normally intelligent man, somewhat conversant with logic and the English language, and not obliged to wear a straitjacket, would have to understand the president as saying that, if a good portion of another great American city were destroyed, and several thousand more Americans were slaughtered, the country would become stronger still. We need to scrutinize Bush's future policies to see whether he is actually aiming to further strengthen us in that way.
Seriously, Bush's claim is only the reductio ad absurdum of the official line encouraging Americans to go to the movies, heat up those credit cards again down at the mall, ride those subsidized airplanes to their heart's content, and, especially, BUY STOCKS. Giuliani, the new God of New York, is actually telling people that his whole city is safe. (After all, the crime rate is down, assuming you don't count September 11.) Meanwhile, the Minister of Love, Ashcroft, is assuring us that the Constitution is safe, too. It would be nothing less than treason, as well as a red flag to Bull O'Reilly, to point out that the Constitution has been dead as a doornail for decades. Maybe Ashcroft means that the remaining tatters of the Constitution are in a safe for the duration.
All the busy scurrying about on Capitol Hill, at the Imperial Palace, and in the Ministries, and all the bellowing about "increased security" might seem to contradict the official line, if one were not accustomed to practicing patriotic doublethink. But any good citizen will instantly understand that, while he is completely safe now, his wise, cautious, and benevolent rulers are determined to see to it that he is even more completely safe in the future.
At the risk of digressing, I have to mention another remarkable aspect of the new party line, as promulgated by the official media. The change is not as evident on Fox, the "conservative" network, as it is on the Bolshevik networks, i.e., all the others. I refer to the sudden new respect, not to say reverence, exhibited for cops, military people, and religious believers even Christians! Even Christian clerics! Because we live in the United State of Amnesia, no frantic process of Orwellian "rectification" is necessary, and it's a good thing. Winston Smith and his comrades in the Records Section of the Ministry of Truth would drop from exhaustion.
Some commentators who haven't lost the whole 40 IQ points have compared the official line of bland reassurance unfavorably with Winston Churchill's bracing promise, in 1940, of blood, sweat, and tears. They recommend that Our Suddenly Great Leaders talk more realistically in terms of sacrifice, privation, peril, stiff upper lips, and so forth. I don't deny that Churchill was the best propagandist of World War II far better than Goebbels but he was courting a different kind of people.
They were a people who could be maddened and manipulated and deceived, as we can be, but they were also a people with a backbone. Adult people, who to a considerable extent were still in touch with their history, their legends, and their ancestral folkways. To a considerable extent, they still knew who they were and what they believed. Understanding that one day every man would die, they even believed that some things were worth dying for. Clever Churchill was able to convince them that two things worth dying for were incinerating the heart of Europe and saving Stalin.
Our regime knows what kind of people it must court now what kind of people it must madden and manipulate and deceive. After all, the regime has done much to create them. It knows that in order to get Americans to wave the flag and march in step, and help incinerate the new Great Enemy, first it's got to promise not to take away their Nintendo.
Should be an interesting war. Or "war."
September 25, 2001
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