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Newsweek reports that 41 per cent of Americans are convinced that “Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was directly involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.” This reflects a substantial uptick against the last poll. Of course, there is no factual issue here. Even Dick Cheney, who would so dearly love for this statement to be true, acknowledges that it is not. So how do we get there? We have media which are rife with Neocons hawking lies about Saddam Hussein, Iraq and 9/11. By and large they’re careful only to imply, not to directly say, things that they know to be untrue. But their campaign works just fine, and indeed, we have created an environment that lets them do it.
This poll result should sound an alarm bell. Especially for the media, for it is a clear measure of the corruption done. It gave me pause and sent me thinking back to George Orwell, to a passage from Looking Back on the Spanish Civil War (1943):
Early in life I have noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened. I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various ‘party lines’.
When the party line dictates the truth, we have taken a great step towards a totalitarian society. Indeed, it would appear, we have taken that step. And the Newsweek poll is not the only item appearing in our day’s news that transmits this disturbing message.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”