The 41 per cent Dilemma | Harper's Magazine

Sign in to access Harper’s Magazine

Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?

  1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
  2. Select Email/Password Information.
  3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.

Locked out of your account? Get help here.

Subscribers can find additional help here.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
[No Comment]

The 41 per cent Dilemma


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