Americans Caught in a Web of Paranoia
The Americans are being slowly indoctrinated into believing that they are citizens of a nation under siege, beset by evil forces both within and without. Inspired by the Bible-thumping rhetoric of their beloved right-wing Christian leader, they see themselves as freedom’s champions.
Indeed, America was attacked on September 11, 2001 and on its own soil. Yet, however horrendous that was in terms of the loss of innocent human life, it should be put into perspective.
In reality the U.S. was attacked on a single day by extremist ideologues; crazed criminals, who unleashed their fury over America’s foreign policies onto U.S. symbols of capitalism and power.
Rather than put 9-11 into its proper context, the Bush administration has fostered a new siege mentality onto the American people by repeating at every opportunity over and over again like a mantra “they are jealous of our freedoms” or “they hate democracy”. The truth must not be exposed.
Anyone outside the influence of this pernicious campaign against individual thought, would be disposed to ask: How can those who hate democracy be envious of people enjoying freedom? But, sadly, the Americans who ask these kinds of questions are in the minority.
Instead, the American public has fallen victim to a gigantic propaganda/indoctrination campaign, organised by its own government. The U.S. government and its subservient media make a great team.
September 11, 2002 was a perfect example of this Orwellian-type mind-control on the part of the powers that be in the U.S. On that day the American government pulled out all the stops. Just minutes before the president’s speech at the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. Defence Minister, said: “We came here today to rededicate ourselves to the cause of human liberty”.
Staff Sergeant Steve Cramer sang A Hero for Today, providing the emotional component to the heavily charged proceedings.
Even this beautifully-rendered seemingly innocent song featured the words: When you stand for freedom you sometimes stand alone. Which ditty could have been more appropriate to motivate the U.S. military in case of a unilateral invasion of Iraq?
Over at Ground Zero, New York’s Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg read out an excerpt from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 speech The Four Freedoms, and said that 2,800 people lost their lives because “some people found our freedom threatening”.
The nostalgic day came to a close with the American President standing with the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty and announcing that America would never be at the mercy of any foreign power. End of a genuinely sad, yet perfect politically-orchestrated occasion.
The previous day had witnessed Americans being reminded of the dangers which they perceive as constantly surrounding them since 9-11, when Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that the U.S. was on high alert for terrorist attacks.
This ominous code-orange warning was illustrated by the sight of missile launchers, scattered around Washington, fighter jets patrolling the skies and metal detectors outside significant buildings.
I’ll bet there were few in America last week whose thoughts dwelt on the eroded economy or corporate scandals. This combination of fear and nationalism is a way to control the masses and one often used by leaders of totalitarian states on the principle of “who controls thoughts, controls the world”.
Such a leader would explain the past by blaming scapegoats; justify the current “struggle for good over evil” and all with the promise of a golden future… “for our children, or our children’s children”. Sound familiar?
Subliminal messages are put out by such leaders, using the repetition of key-words, or sound-bites, which an unsuspecting public finds almost impossible to ignore. Phrases like “freedom itself was attacked by a faceless coward and freedom will be defended” for example.
Constant visual reminders of enemy influences (crumbling buildings, perhaps?) are flashed with unwavering regularity into their homes, lest they should forget.
As these suggestions permeate the public psyche, individuals may struggle against them on a conscious level, but eventually they seep into the realms of the subconscious until they re-emerge as the individual’s own ideas.
Such walking indoctrinated would be outraged by any notion that their strings were being pulled and they were not as free as they thought they were.
Is this a process which the American people are undergoing these days? Are they being played like a tune on a fiddle, while remaining blissfully unaware? This question deserves to be asked. How were the American people persuaded to willingly offer up their privacy and civil liberties on the altar of protecting their own freedoms?
The very people who believe that theirs is the world’s only free society are seemingly uncomplaining about the fact that their emails can be scrutinised by the FBI or the CIA, and their phone calls monitored – all sanctioned by the Patriot Act.
Where were the street protests when the new TIPS scheme was announced? In many cases such fear-led paranoia has impinged heavily upon the freedoms of people, like the three Arab-born Americans who were taken into custody by police last weekend and held for 72-hours just because while eating out, a nosy (and obviously deaf) co-diner thought that she heard them plotting terrorist attacks.
Then there was the aircraft, which was turned back to its departure point all because a passenger took out a comb, which an overly paranoid individual believed to be a lethal weapon.
Of course, the U.S. has every right and duty to protect itself from any further attack – but without scaring its citizens and attempting to make them believe they are on a sacred mission to rid the world of nameless, faceless perpetrators of evil.
When it comes to the leaders of other countries, such manipulative techniques have little effect, and this is why Bush’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly had a down to earth quality, devoid of his usual Crusader-type rhetoric.
The carefully-worded, much-anticipated speech was nothing but hype, delivered as a sop to the collective egos of member states, smarting at being ignored by the superpower regarding its intentions towards Iraq. In reality, Bush could have read verses from Hiawatha for all the substance that was in that speech.
It merely reiterated everything which we all knew about Iraq without providing any new evidence that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction or that he threatens the world.
The American President should be congratulated on his ability to keep a straight face when complaining about Iraqi aggression during the Iran/Iraq war, as he did in his speech before the UN Assembly.
We all know that Saddam was at that time a favourite son of the U.S., and the beneficiary of American weapons and military assistance. When it came to the baloney about the way in which the Bush administration is supposed to care about the Iraqi people and wishes to free them from the oppression of that dreadful dictator, I almost choked.
This is the same Iraqi people which American-led sanctions has deprived of food, medicine and clean water, and which, if Bush has his way, will be slaughtered in their thousands by U.S. bombs in any upcoming strike.
Speeches which contain tugs at the heartstrings and calls to patriotism are strictly a diet of schmaltz fed to the public. The leaders of UN member states are largely unimpressed by rhetoric. Their tear-filled eyes are unlikely to gaze adoringly upon Bush in full flourish on the podium. They are far more interested in tangible benefits. For them it’s the bottom line which counts.
We can only speculate on the various enticements, which the other permanent members of the Security Council are likely to be proffered for not using their veto against the terms of the next UN resolution concerning Iraq.
Already the UN itself has been bestowed with the “gift” of America’s membership of Unesco, whose head office just happens to be in Paris.
As a result of U.S. machinations, manipulations and mass-hypnosis, after 11 long years, Saddam has been moulded into the personification of all that is bad with Bush the reincarnated Richard Coeur de Lion. And as my wise, great-aunt would have said in the British vernacular: “Pull the other one, deary. It’s got bells on it”.
Linda S Heard is a writer, editor and Arabist, who has lived and worked for most of her life in the Middle East.
She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org