Monday, February 22, 2010

We are all targets now

The news analysis these days is filled with embedded war reporters from Afghanistan whining incessantly on behalf of the soldiers there who are laboring under rules of engagement so strictly designed to protect civilians that 'our' warriors are hampered. The effects of being embedded are so clear. The reluctance with which any value is placed on the bodies that house the hearts and minds that we claim to be winning is telling. The Pentagon's propaganda machine is switched On 24-7.

What? Propaganda emanating from our own armed forces? Isn't their business to defend the country?

Actually, as many have noted, we've had a military takeover occurring in slow-mo for a long time. The funds spent on military propaganda in 2009 alone ranged about $4.7 billion repeat Billion, according to the Washington Post, 5 February 2009. This is more money than the Pentagon sends to our perennial major military aid recipient, Israel. We should expect mainstream media to be increasingly warped by this pressure, and we see that.

One exception is Seymour Hersh, mainstream media writer for The New Yorker, with breaking stories to his credit that go back to exposing the massacre at My Lai in Vietnam, first telling us about the torture at Abu Ghraib prison, and much more.

We heard him speak in Portland the other night and, sure enough, a military PR flak burst out at the end of his talk with whatever version of Tourette syndrome they are trained to have. He started with laying out his fighting man cred--tours in Iraq and Afghanistan--so that we were all in awe of his willingness to serve freedom. Then he needled Hersh for not reporting on the "good" being done by the military who have invaded, slaughtered, occupied and installed puppet governments in the Middle East and Central Asia. Hersh defended himself a bit but never mentioned that this Pentagon propaganda mill is Out There, infecting and affecting public discourse.

Your heart and your mind are targets of this background blitz that blogs, embeds, writes op-eds, fetes and profiles and manipulates reporters, leans on editors, steers experts and advertises long and hard in movie theaters and on billboards. Your children are prime targets, high value hearts and minds, and everyone on Earth is now in their propaganda crosshairs.

Do not let them invade, occupy and colonize our hearts and minds. Defend us. We are all targets and thus we are all on this battlefield. We can all be warriors for nonviolence, putting the light of hope on the harsh glare of violent attack.

I refuse to use violence, but I do not cede any words or phrases to the military. This is my language, words are my only weapons, and they do not own the concept of "warrior," nor "battle," nor least of all "defend." Indeed, I offer a synthesis of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., as a slogan that we might consider:

By any nonviolent means necessary.

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