By Saswat Pattanayak
The recent news that the American government reports regarding Iran’s nuclear activities were motivated and based on systematic lies is no news.
Back in September 2006, the UN had condemned the US reports as false, erroneous and misleading. Vilmos Cserveny, a director of International Atomic Energy Agency had written a letter addressed to Chairman, US House of Representatives, in clear terms saying that the US report “Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States” (dated 23rd Aug 2006) contained “erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated information”.
The UN’s responses to US report as blatantly motivated were subsequently ignored by the corporate media at that point. The biggest news monopolies chose not to highlight this factor even as they went on raising apprehensions of Iran as the threat to world security. And the people of the western “democracies” naturally went ahead to parrot their oppressive ruling class stances. During the war against Afghan people, they had not raised voice because most of their media told them it was just and appropriate. During the war against Iraqi people, the first world citizens indeed voted their war mongering leaders back to power because they again believed in their militarist war reports. And now, when the tirade turned against Iran, they blindly allowed their corporate media to project Iran as the threat to the world security by consuming overwhelming proportions of anti-Iran coverage.
Following UN objections, not taking chances, the western media imperialists combined their joint efforts. AP, Reuters and AFP (the American, British and French media monopolists) circulated a story that was generated by some French racists. Agence France-Presse, whose single point agenda has been to defame the Islamic world reported in March 2007 by reinventing the myths and published a concocted story that a UN inspector had been denied access to Iran. This story found such coinage and credibility that even in his August tour of Columbia University, Iranian president faced questions from the University President, a learned professor, to this regard.
The fact that the Columbia University President not only believed in the news reports published by AFP and circulated through news channels in the US, but also without feeling the need to investigate into the UN responses, decided to harshly question the morality of President of a sovereign country is evidence enough as to what extent the ordinary working class American people are gullible to the so-called news reports distributed by their trusted media. From Fox to CNN channels, from conservative to liberal publications, American media have historically heeded to false reports, at times deliberately to protect their own grounds, and at times incidentally as a matter of “professional” routine.
Before accusing an individual of committing a crime, the law, order, judiciary and media claim to leave no stones unturned. And yet, in cases such as this where a head of a sovereign state was being accused of preventing UN inspection team, no one thought twice before republishing AFP lies.
The very fact that elected representatives of many western demoncracies thrived through the cold war period by implanting devious designs into independent territories, installed atrocious dictators to suppress peoples movements, forcibly colonized half of the world through territorial and economic invasions is enough to raise collective suspicion that the fourth pillar of such malicious structures, the press, must be largely responsible for continuing the legacy of oppression. And yet, the fact that the enlightened western audience, the successors of the renaissance heritage, the alumni of the ivy leagues allow themselves to be vulnerable to their corporate media productions and they become active participants in reproducing the elites of their countries must raise some basic questions:
1. Media Myths: Even after the UN itself denied the US reports alleging violations of UN norms by Iran, hundreds of thousands of American people continued to believe their media editorials as more accurate than the source they were referring to. It is because the myth that media are independent entities (from administrative interference) looms large in western hemisphere. Media outlets be in Communistic countries, or in Capitalistic countries are active agencies of the political system they work within. If under Communism, they propagate the action plans of the Party and raise awareness among people about socialistic policies, under Capitalism, the media propagate the conflicting situation faced by the ruling party in a multiparty competition and raise awareness about the merits of individualistic market economy. The question then is, how long do people have to wait till they can force the hypocritical media agencies to declare their affiliations (financial, political and ideological)?
2. False News: What happens when a world news is distorted entirely and presented in a form that suits the interests of the ruling class, solely to the detriment of the ruled people? It has always happened, but to take instance of the present case, people are well aware that the ordinary lower economic youths were sent to Iraq to be killed in order to serve the financial interests of the ruling elites in Washington. Even as the 9-11 reports manufactured by the US government were proven to be inconsistent with the reality and even as the government itself is accused of having role in the terrorist act, the even used as an excuse to bomb Iraq was propagated as the only recourse by the media outlets. The president was elected twice based on false news reports circulated nationwide under the preposition of Patriotism. In the recent sleight of hand against Iran, the US media designs were once again defeated when the UN also denied the allegations that its inspectors were forbidden by Iran. In such cases, how long do people have to wait till they can demand the ouster of editors from the news outlets they have been subscribing to, which parrot the official lines while claiming to be independent?
3. People Power: The primary goal of having media or bestowing certain privileges upon journalists is to ensure that people have a platform as wide, or wider than the political parties they allow to administer their affairs over. As years pass by, we notice that the contrary appears to be true. People have been losing their right to know the truth, to seek clarifications and to demand actions using the media platforms. Instead, people are meted out with corporate advertisements to allure and seduce them into remaining permanent features of an exploiting market economy that thrives through sweatshop practices, domestic slavery and private monopolies. Media (TV, Radio, Print, and now Internet) in the capitalistic societies have emerged as extremely necessary vehicles for consumeristic voyeurism. Beyond that, the remaining spaces are filled with outright lies, motivated news items and editorial columns that lack historical insights. Peoples’ participation has possibly increased as is evident through emergence of blogs and independent websites, but most of them anyway rely on the available news items to generate a comment. Hence, the conversation largely then remains within those groups of people that create and recreate the myths in various permutations. The question then is, how long will people have to wait till they can force their governments to restrict corporate advertisements and instead promote popular participation through activism journalism—the only way people power can be transmitted and translated?
Some of my concerns are philosophical in nature. Indeed, probably all are. But if we continue to ignore the roots of our collective human thoughts that’s getting increasingly conformist over the years by remaining content within the parameters of what is provided, than questions over what is required, then possibly we shall be leaving a deeply uncritical and acquiescing world for the future.