Current events limn with absolute clarity the reasons why the American public is the worst-informed citizenry in the civilized world.
Most Americans get most of their "news" from television. The revolution in Egypt makes for great television because it offers so many startling images -- protesters scrambling aboard the tanks sent to suppress them, Molotov cocktails exploding against vehicles, dead bodies, bloodied faces, dramatic clouds of tear gas, evil muslims doing their nasty stuff on prayer rugs, military jets flying menacingly over Cairo. . . the producers must be wetting themselves with joy. Meanwhile, the talking heads and the analysts they bring in to answer their feeble questions, manage to get the story totally wrong even as the images flicker and fascinate in the background.
To correct just a few of their falsehoods: This is not an Islamic uprising. The protesters are from every walk of Egyptian life and every political and religious persuasion except blind support of the U.S. puppet dictator Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood is a small but extremely outspoken Islamist sect that has a stake, but not a controlling one, in the revolution. It is not the next al Qaeda, plotting to overthrow the United States by remote control from Cairo. The Egyptian revolution is spontaneous and grassroots; it is a not a creation of 'outside interests" funded by Hamas and Iran. The looters are not part of the revolution; when the police withdrew from public view they turned loose thugs and thieves to loot and plunder as a "lesson" about "anarchy" in the streets. The government did not shut down the internet and create a communications blackout, silencing cell phones and social media. The corporations that provide these services, such as Vodaphone, voluntarily shut them down at the behest of the Mubarak thuggery.
Corporations have an enormous stake in the Egyptian regime and are scrambling to cover their filthy rich asses against its now likely collapse. Boeing, via its Narus subsidiary in Sunnyvale, CA, equipped the dictatorship police with "Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)" hardware used by the regime to target and track dissenting communications over the Internet and mobile phones. The revolution spread far faster than the government's ability to track down and punish opposition figures, so the next step was to silence everything. The corporatocracy that rules America has its fingerprints all over the Mubarak dictatorship: one of its principal lobbyists in Washington is the Podesta group, consultant to giant corporations founded a quarter of a century ago by John Podesta, Bill Clinton's former chief of staff, and his brother, Tony; BAE Systems, General Dynamics, General Electric, Raytheon and Lockeed Martin prominently have sucked up billions of our tax dollars filtered through the Mubarak government to buy weapons and services to keep the despot in power.
You won't learn these things from Fox, CNN or network "news." You've got to monitor Al Jazeera and the BBC, and read the Guardian U.K. For a partial list of other sources worth consulting: http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama/2011/01/egypt-people-who-might-actually-know-what-theyre-talking-about.html.
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The first producer of "60 Minutes" on CBS, Don Hewitt, and all of his reporters, were acolytes of Edward R. Murrow, the finest broadcast journalist ever to serve this country.
The "60 Minutes" broadcast last night, a hatchet job on Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, was a tragic disgrace to their legacy. Carefully editing more than six hours of interviews to reflect badly on Assange, it was a flagrant example of propaganda as journalism. A single scene serves as an indictment of the entire spectacle: the producers showed a snippet of the infamous "collateral murder" video -- but cut out the footage showing the murder of innocent people in a van.
The New York Observer's headline tells it best: "Who Put the 'BS' in CBS?"
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Another example of the kind of journalism you don't get in this country, either on TV or in print, is the Guardian's clear, concise, brief analysis of our government's dilemma in Egypt, entitled, "White House Wobbles on Egyptian Tightrope."
"In the final analysis," it says, "The U.S. needs a friendly government in Cairo more than it needs a democratic one."
Throughout the Arab world, in response to events in Tunisia and Egypt, views of the common man expose the hypocrisy of that policy.
From Jordan comes the voice of Laith Shbillat:
"People want their freedom, people want their bread, people want to stop these lousy dictators from looting their countries. I'd follow anybody, I 'd follow Vladimir Lenin if he came and led me."
He quotes an Arab poet:
If one day a people desires to live,
Then Fate will answer their call.
And their night will then begin to fade,
And their chains break and fall."