What “Change” In America Really Means

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

My first visit to Texas was in 1968, on the fifth anniversary of the assassination of president John F Kennedy in Dallas. I drove south, following the line of telegraph poles to the small town of Midlothian, where I met Penn Jones Jr, editor of the Midlothian Mirror. Except for his drawl and fine boots, everything about Penn was the antithesis of the Texas stereotype. Having exposed the racists of the John Birch Society, his printing press had been repeatedly firebombed. Week after week, he painstakingly assembled evidence that all but demolished the official version of Kennedy’s murder.

This was journalism as it had been before corporate journalism was invented, before the first schools of journalism were set up and a mythology of liberal neutrality was spun around those whose “professionalism” and “objectivity” carried an unspoken obligation to ensure that news and opinion were in tune with an establishment consensus, regardless of the truth. Journalists such as Penn Jones, independent of vested power, indefatigable and principled, often reflect ordinary American attitudes, which have seldom conformed to the stereotypes promoted by the corporate media on both sides of the Atlantic. Read American Dreams: Lost and Found by the masterly Studs Terkel, who died the other day, or scan the surveys that unerringly attribute enlightened views to a majority who believe that “government should care for those who cannot care for themselves” and are prepared to pay higher taxes for universal health care, who support nuclear disarmament and want their troops out of other people’s countries.

Returning to Texas, I am struck again by those so unlike the redneck stereotype, in spite of the burden of a form of brainwashing placed on most Americans from a tender age: that theirs is the most superior society in the history of the world, and all means are justified, including the spilling of copious blood, in maintaining that superiority.

That is the subtext of Barack Obama’s “oratory”. He says he wants to build up US military power; and he threatens to ignite a new war in Pakistan, killing yet more brown-skinned people. That will bring tears, too. Unlike those on election night, these other tears will be unseen in Chicago and London. This is not to doubt the sincerity of much of the response to Obama’s election, which happened not because of the unction that has passed for news reporting from America since 4 November (e.g. “liberal Americans smiled and the world smiled with them”) but for the same reasons that millions of angry emails were sent to the White House and Congress when the “bailout” of Wall Street was revealed, and because most Americans are fed up with war.

full article: www.insight-info.com

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1 Comment

  1. bpogadl said,

    November 13, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    It’s really difficult to me to not get defensive adverse the US as I, being a western, always sympathized with the country.
    The accusations towards modern western journalism, however, I agree with. I think a lot of western journalists do take advantage of their power to influence people’s minds and the article is right when he points out that they are very influenced by the common views of western society. (Not so much the views of “the establishment” as the article calls it) The basic problem of western journalism is that it always reports out of a very western perspective leading to a very blurry view of the society as such towards foreign cultures.
    But the article is wrong when he calls this process “brainwashing” as it follows the basic principles of pluralistic discourse whose dynamics are just misjudges by most journalists. To call it brainwashing implies an accusation of (negative) intentions towards western journalism. This is, however, a mere ascription.


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