The Grinning Face of Propaganda

Posted: September 12, 2006 in Politics, Television

Judging from the activity of the mainstream media, the 5-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is so much more significant than the 4-year anniversary). I’ve seen a few blog entries that rehash the details, go on record against terrorism, or ask the “where were you?” question. That’s well-trodden ground, and frankly, no worthwhile result obtains (beyond the trite “never forget” idea — as if we could).

The one piece that makes a great deal of sense to me and has a worthwhile reminder of where we ought to be after five years is this one by Keith Olbermann. Among his insightful remarks is that now five years later, we still have a 16-acre hole in lower Manhattan. No memorial, no building project. So if we all came together in support of victims, civil servants, and Pres. Bush, well, we haven’t yet been able to similarly put aside our differences and get something done on the site of ground zero.

Olbermann also makes a rather spooky reference to a Twilight Zone episode where conquering aliens remark that once they set us against each other, the aliens themselves don’t really need to do much to wipe us out as our own paranoia and mob response are pretty potent weapons. Leading that charge, by Obermann’s assessment, is the Bush administration, for which he has nothing but contempt, apparently.

Probably the worst aspect Olbermann notes is that the 9/11 attacks have been used by political opportunists (again, the Bush administration figures strongly) in shameless propaganda campaigns to advance partisan agendas, notably, the war with Iraq and rolling back civil liberties. And it’s not over. ABC’s docudrama The Path to 9/11 has been roundly denounced as “[f]actually shaky, politically inflammatory and photographically a mess” by the Washington Post. I’m the wrong person to comment on this, as I didn’t watch any of the docudrama, nor did I watch either of the Hollywood movies treating the same subject. Like the JFK assassination, with so much disinformation, outright fiction, and conspiracy theory floating around, I rather doubt the truth behind either event is truly knowable with any confidence after they’ve been spun and massaged and coopted as party propaganda.

So although politics is not really my focus, I’ll offer a brief five-years-later assessment. It makes me infinitely sad that whatever lessons might have been learned in the aftermath of the attacks, including some serious self-assessment about the things we did to get us to the point of becoming a target, that opportunity has been mostly squandered in unthinking American jingoism and flailing retribution taken on the wrong parties.

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