When it comes to issues that concern us we, as a nation, are breathtakingly poorly informed . Often we are reacting to events, statements, propaganda without really understanding basic facts. Michael Scheuer, the former CIA operative whose book Imperial Hubris was published under the authorship “anonymous” says in an interview (Buzzflash) that “the main problem with neo-conservatives is that they live in a fact-free environment: the world as they want it, not as it is.” Indeed we have been inundated in recent years with meaningless sound-byte, jingoistic bromides instead of in-depth discussions of foreign policy or other matters.
Thus we live in a kind of netherworld where wars are referred to in strange, hollow terms – a fight for Iraqi Freedom, Desert Storm and all the rest to be accomplished most recently by a campaign of “shock and awe.” All this along with the War on Terror being waged we are told against an enemy that hates our freedoms when, as so many experienced in the field have told us, this is simply not the case. What militant Muslims seem to hate at their core is our policies – our support of autocratic regimes in the Muslim world, our presence in their sacred lands and our inability or refusal to understand any of the root causes of Muslim anger.
We were told all during the campaign that we’d better vote for the right guy or we wouldn’t be safe. We were told that invading Iraq had made the world safer, all evidence to the contrary, witness recent events in Saudi Arabia, Africa, Pakistan and Iraq itself. Militant Islam appears to be on the rise around the world despite claims by our leaders that we are winning the war on terror.
Which brings me back to the basic point of an uninformed public. We need to step back and figure out how to force a vision based on reality into the political mainstream. Pat Towell, a guest on Washington Journal, Jan. 2, is a visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. He said something very interesting about how issues are framed which dovetails rather nicely with the point about whether we simply react rather than promote an agenda. For example, if Social Security is described by the Administration as in crisis mode and all major newspapers and other media sources so describe it we have been put in the position of accepting it as being, in fact, a crisis when this may not be the case at all..
Likewise the whole issue of the ethics debate in Congress is clothed in so much beside-the-point chatter that the basics of ethical behavior are obscured. We are thrown once again into a world of political shadows, and words in this case, as in so much political discourse these days, are almost totally meaningless and in fact the opposite of what they were originally meant to define. It reminds me of the old saying – “A wolf came to the door, but they called it a dog.” We seem to have reached a point in this country where our government is pursuing policies in a “fact-free” environment and counting on us to accept fiction as fact.

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