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Sunday, June 22, 2008


The air we breathe

The corporate media spews out a daily stream of propaganda, but so much of it is taken for granted by is readership it's rarely seen as such. A typical example from the Washington Post today discusses al-Hurra, the Arabic-language television network financed by the U.S. government. Now at first, you might think this is a wonderful example of the "free press"; after all, the basis for the article is how "the station is widely regarded as a flop in the Arab world, where it has struggled to attract viewers and overcome skepticism about its mission." But in the course of reading that, you're forced to put up with such propagandistic nuggets as how al-Hurra is "the centerpiece of a U.S. government campaign to spread democracy in the Middle East" (as if!). You also read the preposterous assertion that "propaganda has become a primary front in the war against terrorism, with the United States and al-Qaeda each investing heavily to win over hearts and minds." Yeah, "propaganda" and several hundred billion dollars worth of bombs and bullets.

Forming a nice counterpoint to the assertion about the "U.S. government campaign to spread democracy in the Middle East" is this morning's coverage about one of the least democratic rulers in the world, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. There's plenty of coverage about the issue of democracy in Zimbabwe, but when it comes to Saudi Arabia...nary a word.

Staying in the region we have coverage today about the Hamas-Israeli truce. And why did that truce come about? Here's what AP has to say:

Hamas wants credit for ending the blockade and the legitimacy of reaching even an indirect agreement with Israel. Israel needs the halt in daily rocket attacks that disrupted the lives of thousands in the border area. Critics say it gives Hamas a chance to rearm.
Israel? Only the noble motive of preventing the "disruption" of the lives of its citizens. Hamas? Only cynical motives of getting "credit" for ending the blockade and "legitimacy." That they might have actually wanted to end the blockade, not just "get credit" for ending it, evidently isn't a possibility. Earlier in the article, we read that the Gaza fighting has claimed the lives of more than 400 Palestinians and seven Israelis in the last year. But while the article's author gives Israel credit for concern for the lives of its citizens, there's not a word to suggest that Hamas might have an interest in preventing the more than 50-fold greater deaths of its own people. Incidentally, I'm virtually positive that "more than 400 Palestinians" does not include the 98 Palestinians who have died in hospitals as a direct result of shortages and other problems caused by the blockade (undoubtedly more by now, that figure is four months old), people who were just as surely murdered by Israel and the U.S. (and U.K. and Egypt and other countries enabling and enforcing the blockade) as the ones killed by missiles and bullets. I've also heard on multiple occasions just recently, even on BBC where I would swear I never used to hear such language, about the "endless cycle of Hamas rocket attacks and Israeli reprisals." As if one could tell in such an "endless cycle" which were the "attacks" and which were the "reprisals," even if one were willing to not ask the impolite question about the ultimate original cause of the problem.

The air we breathe is thick indeed with propaganda; it's all too easy to not even notice the stench.

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