A Public Bombarded with War

Normon Solomon has a spot-on analysis of the mainstream media’s role in shaping–or destroying–public opinion about a possible war on Iraq:

“Daily media speculation about the starting date for all-out war on Iraq has contributed to widespread passivity – a kind of spectator relationship to military actions being implemented in our names.”

This is what I’ve been thinking lately (and I wish I’d written here first), especially as I hear “news” of recent opinion polls indicating that now a slight majority of Americans support attacking Iraq, even though questions and concerns abound, even as most people still want the US to have UN backing first.

But it makes sense, when war on Iraq is the most dominant theme in the broadcast news. You can’t fucking avoid it. So, even if you’re critical of the administration and the drive to war, you’re nonetheless goaded into recognizing it’s important.

And why is a war on Iraq important? Because our damn leaders say it is!

That’s it, there’s no other reason. Bush, Blair and Co. have decreed that this is the top of the international agenda, and so it is. Then the press, too afraid of being scooped by the next well-staged leak or re-release of years-old data, follows along like a good puppy, hungry for another kibble.

The press does it’s best to appear critical by meekly asking the rhetorical question of whether or not we should go to war, and then more strongly asking how we should go to war. But the press never asks, “Is Iraq the most important thing we should be worrying about?”

No, the press utterly fails to question the Bush administration’s priorities.

And so we’re constantly bombarded by “news” about if, when and how this war on Iraq is going to happen that it becomes more difficult to construe how it might not happen, or how something else might be more important.

No wonder, then, that opinion polls show that people are starting to acquiesce to war fever. It’s not so much a rally as it is a surrender. A colleague of mine said to me the other day (in a defeated tone), “I wish they’d just get this war over with and get on with things.” According to all press accounts, the agenda is set — all we have to do now is wait for the other bomb to drop.

To an extent, to question if we should go to war is nonetheless an acknowledgement that Iraq is a priority. To be anti-war is not necessarily to be pro- something. It’s a reaction and it puts the anti-war person in the position of being controlled by what she opposes. If there’s no war talk — or the press and public don’t take that talk seriously — then there’s not much point in being anti-war.

I don’t intend this to be a defeatest rant. Believe me, I oppose any war on Iraq and I further oppose this fascistic administration that’s ramming it down our throats. But I think it’s important to recognize how the agenda is set and how even if most people don’t want war, the constant pursuit of this agenda pummels us into at least acknowledging that it’s an important topic.

Pro-war, anti-war or apathetic, we’re all carpet-bombed daily with the assertion that this is the most important question in front of the whole world right now. Without the press, this simply wouldn’t be possible. The press is complicit in the drive to make war the #1 priority, and we are their audience. And so, war is our #1 priority, too, like it or not.






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