Patrick Smith takes to task yet another volley of misleading half-truths from The New York Times, a paper too cowed by power and myth to tell the truth about U.S. foreign policy
Never before have I written a column concerning nothing more than a pair of quotation marks. Then again, never until now have I seen the power of punctuation so perniciously deployed.
It is not a new trick. Very popular in hackdom during the Cold War decades. Enclose something in quotation marks and all between them is instantly de-legitimized; no argument or explanation need be made. Here, try it:
“… the Cuban ‘doctors’ sent to Angola…”
Or: “… Soviet-made ‘farm equipment’ in Portugal since its 1974 revolution…”
Well, they were doctors and it was farm equipment. In the latter category I sat in a Soviet tractor out in the Portuguese vineyards, and damn it if the camponês did not find it useful.
In the end, this kind of thing is simply passive aggression, my least favorite neurosis. No one actively lies such that one can confront and reveal. It is lying by misleading and by implication, so sending us off full of groundless conviction and prejudice.
This is pretty much how it works. This typifies why we so desperately need more civic-minded media education in our schools. Programs which teach media literacy and critical thinking skills, in order to manage the bombardment of imagery and information we are increasingly deluged with in the digital world.
He nails a point here we’ve been focusing on for years at USTV Media…
In my view, we are amid a pandemic of misinformation as to our global behavior. The dishonesty with which we are given the world, an essentially fantastic version of it, is becoming abject to the point of danger. And it is frighteningly willful. Here is the paradox: We cannot bear to see things as they are because things as they are constitute a refutation of our dearest mythologies, but we must see things as they are if we are to make sense of ourselves in the 21st century.
As the famous quote from James Madison once explained - or perhaps warned;
A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
That is one shark we collectively as a nation seemed to have jumped some time ago. The costs of this are going to continue to rise, until they reach catastrophic proportions, like history always teaches us they do, when the large masses of people fall into a servitude of ignorance to their ruling classes.
The adage among properly cynical diplomats used to be that they were sent abroad to lie for their country. During the Cold War, as Washington’s sponsored atrocities grew evident, the thought took a turn: Diplomats were sent abroad to lie to their country.
Consider it a template and apply it to our press folk.
Correspondents used to be sent abroad to keep the country informed (in theory, at least). Now correspondents go forth to send home a simulacrum of truth, a semblance, while keeping their country misinformed.