Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Rupert Murdoch and My Sister


How powerful and controlling is the propaganda that rains upon the American people? Do even the words of a loved one make a difference when they conflict with a perceived reality that has been constructed by Fox News and the rest of the big media?

I recently moved from San Francisco to a small community outside of Nashville, Tennessee. I was born and grew up in this part of the country, and after 18 years living in California this was kind of a homecoming for me. A sad homecoming-my mother had passed away in the intervening years-but a homecoming nonetheless.

The other day I got together with my sister. We went out to a place called Harpeth Hills Cemetery, a scant five miles or so from the house we had grown up in, and laid some flowers upon our mother’s grave. Then we stopped for lunch afterward. Over lunch I mentioned that I am planning to vote for Dennis Kucinich for president.

“Who’s he?” asked my sister.

I wasn’t surprised at the question, given the fact that the media have all but ignored the Kucinich campaign.

“He’s a congressman from Ohio,” I said, adding that I was for him because he had opposed the war in Iraq.

Mention of the war opened up a whole new avenue to our conversation. She is a reasonably intelligent, 45-year old woman, my sister. Yet like most of the rest of my relatives, she believes the war has been about fighting terrorism and deposing an evil dictator. Nothing I could say could convince her otherwise-although I did try.

I mentioned Saddam Hussein had actually once been an ally of the United States and that this had been back in the days when Ronald Reagan was president. This fact she had never heard of. I pressed harder on the issue.

“You remember when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurds?”

Yes, she remembered this.

“Where do you think he got his chemical weapons?” I asked.

She didn’t know. When I told her it was from the United States it was almost as if a wall went up immediately between us. This was so contrary to-and so alien from-everything she had been told that I could see she simply wasn’t buying it or accepting it.

I tried a different tact.

“You remember the war between Iran and Iraq?”

She did.

“Who do you think the United States supported in that war?”

“I don’t know-Iraq?”

I replied that this was the case, but then I had to explain how and why this had come about which meant going into the Iranian revolution, the U.S. support for the shah, the shah’s secret police, the Savak, the emergence of radical Islam, and so on-and by this time the conversation had gone pretty far afield.

How do you overcome years of conditioning to think in a certain way? I asked myself. What words do you choose?

I tried citing examples of “evil dictators” the U.S. had supported-the shah being a case in point. I also mentioned Suharto of Indonesia. The shah she rememberd; Suharto she had never heard of. I then told her about East Timor, and how 200,000 people had died there, and that all this had taken place with the blessings of Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger.

She listened, absorbing all this, without saying too much in reply. Did she believe what I was telling her? Did she believe even half of it? I have no idea. Somehow, even though she didn’t say as much, I doubt it.

A few days earlier I had emailed to my sister, as well as to a couple of other close relatives, several articles on the Mad Cow story which I had gleaned from the Internet. I was hoping to get them to become vegetarian-as I have been for the past 14 years. I also figured what better way to illustrate the baseness and venality of those currently running the government? For what other story shows the lengths to which those we have entrusted will go to protect big business, even when it means deliberately exposing the public to an ominous health danger? Could any story currently in the news be more revealing of the utter callousness and indifference that exists within our “leaders” vis-à-vis ourselves, the people they are sworn to protect?

“Did you get the emails I sent you about mad cow disease?” I asked now.

She had, she replied, but she hadn’t had time to read them yet.

I was stumped.



More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 27, 2016
Paul Street
An Identity-Politicized Election and World Series Lakefront Liberals Can Love
Matthew Stevenson
Sex and the Presidential City
Jim Kavanagh
Tom Hayden’s Haunting
CJ Hopkins
The Pathologization of Dissent
Mike Merryman-Lotze
The Inherent Violence of Israel’s Gaza Blockade
Robert Fisk
Is Yemen Too Much for the World to Take?
Shamus Cooke
Stopping Hillary’s Coming War on Syria
Jan Oberg
Security Politics and the Closing of the Open Society
Ramzy Baroud
The War on UNESCO: Al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian and East Jerusalem is Illegally Occupied
Colin Todhunter
Lower Yields and Agropoisons: What is the Point of GM Mustard in India?
Norman Pollack
The Election: Does It Matter Who Wins?
Nyla Ali Khan
The Political and Cultural Richness of Kashmiriyat
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“It’s Only a Car!”
October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases