Mainstream media, aside from the disgusting Faux News, has been exposing tRump’s lies for some time, and that’s just responsible journalism. But lest we be naive, we need to recognize their own lies: when it comes to nation states such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, to the extent that they pursue a vision that challenges global capitalism with a more benign alternative; when it comes to “allied” nation states that violate the rights of their own citizens or subjects or neighbors but serve U.S. Interests (read, interests of the U.S. 1%) such as formerly South Africa and currently Israel, Egypt, the Philippines, Honduras, Columbia… and with the recent elections in Great Britain, a virulent strain of reaction seems be seizing power in far too many locales. Gerrymandering, voter suppression and foreign interference certainly seem to be rampant in the U.S., and probably abroad, unless we are to believe that a “landslide” of British subjects have suddenly embraced fascism. And, as Chomsky has pointed out, interference by the 1% in elections dwarfs foreign interference.
Their lies? Take the issue of media spin on countries pursuing alternatives to global capitalism. Venezuela has frequently been described as a dictatorship despite its elected government, whether Chavez or current leaders. A coup against a democratically elected president in Honduras was quickly accepted by the U.S., this under Obama the communist Muslim, with Hillary Clinton as Secretary of state. Obama did attempt a lightening up on Cuba but tRump put an end to that. When the U.S., under Reagan, was violently attacking Nicaragua in ways, that if conducted against the U.S. would clearly be denounced as terrorism (in fact the world court convicted the U.S. Of terrorism for its mining of Nicaraguan harbors in 1985). I remember watching mainstream television reporters standing in Honduras, at the border, pointing behind themselves with their thumb to the Sandinista-led “marxist” dictatorship, despite, again, being an elected government far more respectful of general liberties than the brutal fake democracies the U.S. Supported in El Salvador and Guatemala. U.S. rhetoric sings high praise to freedom and democracy but as just that, rhetoric. It claimed in the bad old days of the cold war that Russia was a repressive gulag but it turns out that it wasn’t the brutality “we” objected to, but the anti-capitalism. In favored regimes, Guatemala and El Salvador, anyone advocating for a free press, unions or questioning of 1% rule soon were carted off to gruesome meetup with a death squad. Never a major problem for the caretakers of democracy in administration after administration.
Take the other issue, allies who routinely violate human rights. Recently Representative Ilhan Ohmar was villified, attacked by democrats and republicans alike, for mildly criticizing Israel’s policies of land theft and oppression of Palestinians. According to Noam Chomsky, Israel’s intent is to make life so miserable for Palestinians in the occupied territories that they will leave. This is increasingly applied also to Palestinian/Israeli citizens. Justification for this blind support is neatly summed up by Chomsky’s statement that Israel, from the U.S. point of view, is “our” mid-eastern aircraft carrier, conveniently located near oil riches.
The U.S. was very slow to recognize the loss of its chief enemy, and justification for bloated but highly profitable, military spending, when the Soviet Union collapsed. At the first opportunity our democracy loving leaders supported the Yeltsin coup, shuttling aside Gorbachev who wanted a Swedish-style social democracy. Thus the arising of today’s Russian gangster oligarchy. The “democratic spring” in Egypt caught our great leaders by surprise and they did what they could to support the ruling elite over those upstarts. And at home, did the police pepper-spray the bankers and stockbrokers pilfering the housing market and stock market or the uppidity protesters?
Well, these two categories of lies certainly lay out part of what those who actually prefer democracy are up against. And it is the anomie generated by these dominant forces that account for some of the attraction to tRump but it is clear that he is hardly a threat to but rather an amplification of elite rule, in a loose-cannon kind of anti-democractic caricature of populism. It is a quandry that we depend for information on 1%-owned media, a gradiant true, from Faux news on the hysterical right to CNN etc; supposedly liberal but actually maybe “moderate” to MSNBC which asks some great questions but in the end simply marks the left-most respectable position which DOES NOT question global capitalism. The New York Times and Washington Post might despise tRump but they do not pursue questions that discomfort their owners. A useful tool is fair.org which studies how the media is spinning things, the Intercept for a radical (read sensible) take. Speaking of that maligned term, who is radical? The politician calling for an assault rifle ban or the smarmy second amendment/NRA apologist? The advocate for nuclear disarmament or the proposal for trillion-dollar expansion of those doomsday arsenals? The idea of non-violent conflict resolution or military hegemony?
Image Credit: the drawing is by the author, Tom Ferguson.