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THE DECAY OF AMERICAN MEDIA — Patrick L. Smith on the decline and fall of American journalism; Peter Lee on China and its Uyghur problem; Dave Macaray on brain trauma, profits and the NFL; Lee Ballinger on the bloody history of cotton. PLUS: “The Vindication of Love” by JoAnn Wypijewski; “The Age of SurrealPolitick” by Jeffrey St. Clair; “The Radiation Zone” by Kristin Kolb; “Washington’s Enemies List” by Mike Whitney; “The School of Moral Statecraft” by Chris Floyd and “The Surveillance Films of Laura Poitras” by Kim Nicolini.
The Amoral Arena

Welcome to the Benghazi Express

by JAMES ROTHENBERG
It’s not dead yet, so we can’t bury it. So goes the outpouring of elite opinion makers. We have to get to the bottom of this Benghazi business. It’s a matter of asking the right questions and where better to ask them than the SELECT COMMITTEE? This is the only way to put politics aside and get to the truth about Benghazi!
You’ve seen it before and you’ll see it again. You’ve seen it all week long so it now embodies the American principle of seeking truth, justice, and the…I can’t remember the rest but if you watch a Superman movie it could be in there.
Amidst the clamor to obtain a full accounting, Hillary Clinton’s quote from January 2013 is recalled, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” We shouldn’t simply dismiss this out of hand. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton, benefitting from her intimate knowledge of state politics, understands something we would all benefit from.
States are not moral agents. They, the institutions supporting them, and the managers thereof, exist for the purpose of self-furtherance. To this end, questions of truth become subordinate to the usefulness of that truth. Political power is not amalgamated by being truthful; it is amalgamated by making the masses believe. Images trump essences, a defining difference between the sentient beings we could be and the insentient beings that a strong state produces.
In this amoral arena, the purpose is not to put yourself on the proper side of an argument to obtain the truth; the purpose is to achieve an end. How can situations be used to advantage, or, what amounts to the zero-sum same, how can it disadvantage opponents?
Ascertaining the truth of the circumstances involving a Jessica Lynch, a Pat Tillman, or the full-fledged Warren Commission, the Challenger Hearings, or even the September 11 suicide hijackings, undergoes a synthesis in which some facts are melded with politically-induced goals to form a useful narrative. The truth (meaning adjective not required) is really besides the point because it’s outside the arena.
James Rothenberg can be reached at: jrothenberg@taconic.net.