I finally found time tonight to watch Bill Moyer’s presentation on PBS, “Buying the War”. It’s hard these days to find a spare ninety minutes for the TV, but I knew this one would be worth it, and I wasn’t disappointed. While there was little new, or earth-shattering, to anyone who took an interest in determining facts over spin, the program pulled no punches when criticizing the mainstream media for its inability, or unwillingness, to separate factual evidence from government fiction in the months leading up to the Iraq War.
Indeed, not a lot has changed since then. The situation still continues to this day. However, while the media must shoulder much of the blame for failing to present its readers with the truth about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – and the administration’s deliberate and often clumsy attempts to distort those truths – in the main it was pandering to what most Americans wanted to hear.
One aspect Moyer’s documentary failed to confront, vital to the administration’s ability to wage its war in Iraq, was the attitude of a majority of ordinary Americans in the twelve months following 9/11.
Those of us old enough, will remember the vintage, black and white, Hollywood westerns depicting a one-hoss town, a local celeb shot down in cold blood, and the poor unfortunate, innocent stranger hounded by the townsfolk until eventually lynched from the tallest suitable tree. Of course, in those films a fair-minded US Marshall unearths the real culprit, the townsfolk are filled with remorse, blame each other for the consequences, and to appease their own guilt erect a monument to the slaughtered stranger before going about their business.
After 9/11, America became that one-hoss town. The twin towers played the local celeb gunned down; Iraq, the innocent stranger lynched by a rabid mob determined to secure vengeance.
Yes, America – you were that mob. The media just fed your blood-lust.
When I arrived on American soil in September 2002, exactly one year and one week after 9/11, what I saw all around me was disturbing. It was more than disturbing, it was frightening. I beheld a nation in emotional turmoil. Patriotic bunting adorned every building; flags fluttered atop most cars. TV programs cited patriotism and American pride as the ultimate goals of every citizen. It was almost physically possible to smell the blood lust on the air. America was screaming for vengeance. The USA was being rent apart at the seams.
It was that national shriek for retribution – for blood – that allowed this administration and those who controlled it, to implement their long held ideals and invade Iraq as part of a much greater scheme for Middle East domination.
Recent polls show Americans still supporting the war number around 35%. In 2003, when it all started, 83% expressed confidence in the war, and 65% (almost two-thirds of the population!) were PROUD of the war.
Today, America has carried out its lynching, satiated its blood-lust. Now, however, it is becoming apparent the innocent have been slaughtered. It’s the wrong blood. Like the townsfolk of the old, black and white westerns, Americans are turning on each other, pointing fingers in a desperate attempt to divert the blame – and the shame.
Most of the bunting has now gone from the buildings; the US flag is rarely seen flying from motor vehicles. Even the bumper stickers have dwindled. But this nation is still in turmoil. America remains a disturbed country, just as frightening as when I first arrived in September 2002.
The raw power that is America runs amok, unrestrained by good and competent leadership. The battle for the Middle East has declined into a bloody, unremitting slog, likely to continue indefinitely; at least, until someone with vision and true authority ascends to the President’s Office and, like the US Marshall of old, brings order out of chaos, and harmony to a one-hoss town where the population has trouble coming to terms with its guilt and remorse.
Filed under: Shameful acts