Random Thoughts

Think Tank Propaganda Machines and the Death of the Free Press

The unintended consequences of good policy are seen in the proliferation of American think tanks. Congress allowed the deduction of charitable contributions to encourage philanthropy for the public good. Along the way fabulously rich persons have used the loophole to set up major well endowed think tanks to serve as propaganda machines to spew out partisan garbage to benefit their ideology and assist in enacting public policy skewed towards their economic advantage.

The newspapers and television stations have become a platform for advancing the bias of the owners. The skewed reporting of Fox News and the proliferation of right wing talk shows are a classic example of this misuse. The New York Times apologized for its reporting before the Iraq invasion and finally let Judith Miller go, but not before her acting as the unfiltered mouthpiece of the Bush Cheney administration had led the nation into the Iraq debacle. The Washington Post also tendered a late apology for parroting the administration propaganda without questioning or investigating the truth of the deliberate misinformation. Now the Downing Street Memos, indictment of Scooter Libby and the possible indictment of Karl Rove and the Torture Papers have revealed the truth. Congressman Murtha, a respected Marine has recently revealed the latest atrocities in Iraq.

The stressed American public with time constraints gets its news from television and with its attention deficit disorder, ignorance, apathy and limited intellectual ability is gullible enough to swallow the false propaganda as truth and fact until personal tragedy or economic suffering jolts it out of its apathy. By that time the damage is done and the powers that be, distract the public with a new false worry and propaganda like immigration, sure to stoke the dormant xenophobic fires that smolder in most American hearts and minds. From the Aliens and Sedition Act passed in contravention to the First Amendment of the American Constitution within a decade of its ratification, to the Chinese, Japanese and Southern European exclusion acts, Palmer raids and the internment of American citizens of Japanese ethnic background, the history of America is a litany of xenophobic discrimination legally sanctioned by the legislative, executive and judiciary branch with the craven connivance of the press.

These think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute have become parking places for ideologues currently out of government or out of favor. They are nourished, succored and revitalized during a public drought to become re-invigorated to serve as the nidus of a resurgent epidemic of partisan virulent propaganda. During this sheltered hibernation they have privileged access to write op-eds that are slavishly published without discriminative judgment by national newspapers. The television stations become their master's voice. In the meantime the public fora exclude sane opposing views and voices like Chomsky.

The latest laughable farce is the American Enterprise Institute offering a fellowship to the Somalia born woman, Dutch member of parliament Harsi
Ali. She is a born Muslim, renowned for the criticism of the oppression of women in Islam. Her just criticism of Islam in the recent atmosphere won her the election to the Dutch parliament. No wonder democracy has become the government of the corrupt for the rich by the fools. Anyway an investigative reporter revealed on Dutch TV that she had falsified the facts on her application for asylum in the Netherlands nearly ten years ago. While not placing much value on personal integrity, she has been mouthing platitudes and using demagoguery to further her career. Her piece de resistance of talent was to assist the avant garde Dutch film maker Van Gogh to make a short film depicting naked women with verse of the Koran written on their naked flesh. How is that for creative talent? It, with the vagina monologues competes with the Iliad, Odyssey, Mahabharata or Ramayana. Anyway in the bitterly partisan present politics of the current Netherlands, the interior minister felt that it was valid grounds for stripping her of Netherlands citizenship and deporting her.

The shining knight in armor, the American Enterprise Institute rode to the rescue by offering her a fellowship and eventually a right to earn legal US immigrant status and citizenship. Take that you poor Latino illegal immigrant slogging twelve hours a day in substandard farm hovels at slavery wages to pick the fresh vegetables and fruits that we cherish and savor. You will pay numerous fines, wait in line longer than for Godot and be disbarred for any felony but not Ms. Ali. Why? Because she is a Muslim willing to publicly chastise Islam. There is no doubt that some of the practices of Islam are abominable and Salafi terrorism is a cause for serious worry the world over. The lesson is that if you are willing to malign our current public enemy loudly and publicly, it doesn't matter how many felonies you have committed. We will accept you and fawn on you even if you have blown up a Cuban airline and murdered hundreds of innocents like Posada. You can blow up our Pan American jet and kill a couple of hundred Americans, but if you renounce nuclear weapons and become a tattletale about your sources, we will forgive all. You can develop nuclear weapons like Pakistan but as long as you are against the Soviet Union, all is forgiven.

The hypocrisy of American policy is now obvious to the world to such an extent that nobody pays attention to its proclamations of human rights, spread of democracy, nuclear non-proliferation or any other preaching without practice. They all elicit yawns of boredom from Latin America and allies like South Korea and the EU, contemptuous disregard from China and hostile rejoinders from Russia. America has become the laughing stock of the world and like Rodney Dangerfield gets no respect because of the Bush Cheney cabal.  


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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