FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Voluntary Amnesia in America

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

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

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

September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail