America’s Magical Kingdom


Just back from a long weekend at the Disney World reality show, where my wife and I spent the weekend trailing our 11-year-old son around Walt’s sterile and contrived alternate universe, I find the U.S. media hard at work trying to produce the same kind of world of illusion as one finds on display in the Magic Kingdom.

Double standards (if one can even use the word standard in connection with the media today) are on full display.

Take Lebanon. While tens and even hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathering in America is a story that can be buried on inside pages (as the N.Y. Times did in the case of the first big New York march against the Iraq War), or in many cases not covered at all (at least unless a few of them behave violently or react assertively to police provocation), a few thousand, or even a few hundred stylishly Western-clad young Lebanese protesting against America’s enemy of the week, Syria, get full-bore coverage. When is the last time we’ve seen a U.S. protest on the cover of Time or Newsweek? Yet there were those fresh-faced young Lebanese, gracing the fronts of both magazines on display in the airport newsstand. A little embarrassing when half a million Lebanese who back Syria’s role in their country take to the streets a few days later, and the pro-Syria prime minister, who was pressured to resign last week, is brought back, but hey, who’s paying attention to what happened last week?

In Iraq, it’s the same story. The insurgency continues to grow, with attacks on the Abu-Ghraib torture center in the Green Zone getting so bad that the U.S. has decided to move its “high-value” prisoner/victims to a jail in the center of the Baghdad airport, where there is a wider perimeter of control, Yet all the American media can talk about is how dramatic the new democratic developments in Iraq are, with liberal columnists even suggesting that Bush is being proven right in invading Iraq. It’s as though a tide of democracy had already swept the Middle East, though at this point, not one authoritian government has shown signs of foundering, much less toppling. Of course, there are some things that are hard to ignore or paper over. The killing, by nervous and trigger-happy American troops, of a Bulgarian “coalition” soldier, the Italian secret service rescuer of an Italian journalist, and the body guards of an Iraqi government official, all in the space of a few days, have made it abundantly clear that the U.S. occupation force, far from defending democracy, is slaughtering civilians in Iraq on a daily basis.

Even the business press, usually a bit more inclined to realism, is in on the fantasy game, breathlessly reporting that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is closing back in on the 11,000 mark, while ignoring or downplaying the larger reality that the U.S. dollar is a balloon of hot air, waiting only for the arrival of a pin to send it crashing to the floor, dragging the DOW and the rest of those indices with it. As a private banking money manager on the seat behind me on my plane to Florida confided, the smart money in America these days is pulling out of equities and investing in commodities-copper, oil and gold-aware that the collapse of paper assets, real estate and the dollar itself is just a matter of time.

Whatever else one may say about him, Walt Disney was a shrewd marketeer. He saw early on that what Americans crave is happy fantasies, where the scares are contrived and predictable, and good always triumphs in the end. It’s an approach that neatly meshes with Bush’s good-vs. -evil foreign policy propaganda, and that the media, eager for easy handouts and good visuals, is happy to disseminate.

And like those pricey tickets to Disney World, Americans seem to be buying it in bulk.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Weekend Edition
January 24, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
A Letter From Iowa
Jim Kavanagh
Aftermath: The Iran War After the Soleimani Assassination
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Camp by the Lake
Chuck Churchill
The Long History of Elite Rule: What Will It Take To End It?
Robert Hunziker
A Climate Time Bomb With Trump’s Name Inscribed
Andrew Levine
Trump: The King
James Graham
From Paris, With Tear Gas…
Rob Urie
Why the Primaries Matter
Dan Bacher
Will the Extinction of Delta Smelt Be Governor Gavin Newsom’s Environmental Legacy?
Ramzy Baroud
In the Name of “Israel’s Security”: Retreating US Gives Israel Billions More in Military Funding
Vijay Prashad
What the Right Wing in Latin America Means by Democracy Is Violence
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Biden’s Shameful Foreign Policy Record Extends Well Beyond Iraq
Louis Proyect
Isabel dos Santos and Africa’s Lumpen-Bourgeoisie
Nick Pemberton
AK-46: The Case Against Amy Klobuchar
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Promtheus’ Fire: Climate Change in the Time of Willful Ignorance
Linn Washington Jr.
Waiting for Justice in New Jersey
Ralph Nader
Pelosi’s Choice: Enough for Trump’s Impeachment but not going All Out for Removal
Ted Rall
If This is a Democracy, Why Don’t We Vote for the Vice President Too?
Mike Garrity – Jason Christensen
Don’t Kill 72 Grizzly Bears So Cattle Can Graze on Public Lands
Joseph Natoli
Who’s Speaking?
Kavaljit Singh
The US-China Trade Deal is Mostly Symbolic
Cesar Chelala
The Coronavirus Serious Public Health Threat in China
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Must Remain Vigilant and on Guard Against US Hybrid Warfare
Robert Fantina
Impeachment as a Distraction
Courtney Bourgoin
What We Lose When We Lose Wildlife
Mark Ashwill
Why Constructive Criticism of the US is Not Anti-American
Daniel Warner
Charlie Chaplin and Truly Modern Times
Manuel Perez-Rocha
How NAFTA 2.0 Boosts Fossil Fuel Polluters, Particularly in Mexico
Dean Baker
What Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace With Productivity
Mel Gurtov
India’s Failed Democracy
Thomas Knapp
US v. Sineneng-Smith: Does Immigration Law Trump Free Speech?
Winslow Myers
Turning Point: The new documentary “Coup 53”
Jeff Mackler
U.S. vs. Iran: Which Side are You On?
Sam Pizzigati
Braggadocio in the White House, Carcinogens in Our Neighborhoods
Christopher Brauchli
The Company Trump Keeps
Julian Vigo
Why Student Debt is a Human Rights Issue
Ramzy Baroud
These Chains Will Be Broken
Chris Wright
A Modest Proposal for Socialist Revolution
Thomas Barker
The Slow Death of European Social Democracy: How Corbynism Bucked the Trend
Nicky Reid
It’s Time to Bring the War Home Again
Michelle Valadez
Amy Klobuchar isn’t Green
David Swanson
CNN Poll: Sanders Is The Most Electable
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Our Dire Need for “Creative Extremists”—MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
Robert Koehler
FBI, King and the Tremors of History
Jill Richardson
‘Little Women’ and the American Attitude Toward Poverty