FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Voluntary Amnesia in America

by NORMAN SOLOMON

Forget it!

That seems to be an unstated motto for American media coverage of the Iranian presidential election. The axiom comes down to: “Don’t let history get in the way of spin.”

Evasion smooths the way to the next war.

For maximum propaganda effect, the agenda-setting must be decoupled as much as possible from clear truths — about the current president’s mendacity in connection with Iraq, and about the record of U.S. government actions toward Iran.

While a seriously discredited President Bush strains to do damage control about his past lies and present machinations on Iraq, the U.S. media coverage typically presents his statements about Iran without so much as a whiff of suspicion. A proven liar is treated like a presumptive truth-teller.

The ambient noise of American media evokes history — distant or recent — as an option we may choose to decline, like mustard on a burger. We’re encouraged to mentally disconnect from relevant historic events. Double standards prevail.

Red-white-and-blue journalists don’t doubt that the past sins of Washington’s present-day foes are quite relevant today. So, it’s assumed to be incisive when reporters keep reminding news consumers that Saddam Hussein committed huge crimes such as mass killing of Kurds. But what about the fact that most of the worst of those crimes occurred while the United States was supportive of Hussein’s regime? That question gets short shrift.

Likewise — while American viewers, listeners and readers are apt to be aware that in 1979 some radical Iranians took American diplomats hostage at the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held them for more than a year — other historical facts tend to be hazy or entirely absent. That suits the White House just fine. From a Machiavellian standpoint, the best remedy for unpleasant historical facts — distant or recent — is silence about them.

For instance: Under diplomatic cover, U.S. intelligence operatives engineered a coup that brought down the democratically elected prime minister Muhammad Mussadiq in 1953 and installed the tyrannical Shah, who ruled with an iron and torturing hand until an Islamic revolution triumphed in early 1979. Iranians have ample reasons to be extremely wary of the U.S. government. Yet major American news media scarcely acknowledge that the CIA-organized 1953 coup was a pivotal and destructive event in Iranian history.

From afar, history is optional. But there’s a direct line from the 1953 coup to the predicament that Iranians find themselves in today. Washington installed a dictatorship that gave rise to a revolution that founded the repressive Islamic Republic of Iran. Now, under that regime, advocates for theocracy and democracy are in the midst of an intense struggle.

A week ago, on June 17, during Iran’s first round of voting for president, I visited a few polling stations in neighborhoods of southern Tehran. One of the people who agreed to be interviewed was a 27-year-old woman who gave her name as Leilah. She stood in line with other Iranian women (men had a separate line) waiting to get inside the school to cast their ballots. When I asked who she intended to vote for, Leilah said that she still might choose not to cast a ballot for any of the presidential candidates. “I don’t believe in any of them,” she said.

Her evident despair was rooted in history that cannot be understood without reference to the 1953 coup that jolted Iran off its democratic course.

While routinely omitting even a mere mention of such matters as U.S. support for the overthrow of a duly elected Iranian leader 52 years ago, American journalists — with few exceptions — have kept news coverage of Iran in a zone where history is always pliable. Now you see it, now you don’t. Under such conditions of skewed reporting, the deep suspicion that infuses Iranians’ views of the U.S. government is apt to seem inexplicable.

In contrast to claims from the Bush administration (and from avowedly liberal media sources like editorial writers at the New York Times), the Iranian presidential elections this month have included important elements of democratic participation. In recent weeks, Iranians have publicly and intensively debated Iran’s domestic policies, with very significant differences between the presidential contenders. While American journalists often seem to be suffering from selective amnesia in their reporting, many Iranians are acutely mindful of the need to understand their country’s real history and begin a more hopeful chapter.

Meanwhile, there are strong indications that the Bush administration is ramping up preparations for some kind of military attack on Iran. The assault could include a sustained series of missile strikes — but even a single day of bombing would have a wide range of grim effects, including severe damage to Iran’s fledgling human rights movement. Activists in the United States should work to avert such a catastrophe.

NORMAN SOLOMON’s new book “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” became available this week. The book’s first chapter is posted at: www.WarMadeEasy.com

 

 

 

 

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail